This is a nearly flawless dramatization of the radicalization of the man who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. It is apparently the film time a film has been made about the assassination, likely because of how raw the wound still is 25 years later. But I would say that this is absolutely the film to see about the event, as it is an excellent movie.
The film gets so many things right.
It plunges you in to Amir’s life from the very beginning. Amir’s school and family life is as important as his, ahem, extracurricular activities, and it’s all handled it extremely well. It all feels real and we, the audience, are trusted to figure it all out. (There is not a lot of traditional exposition in this film.)
Archival footage is used to give temporal context but it’s implemented pretty damn seamlessly. (And that becomes important later in the film, so it’s very smart of them to have done it from the beginning of the film.) Often archival material is used as a crutch, but not here. Here it is implemented skillfully into the narrative, making the entire thing feel all the more “verite”.
Halevi, the star, is magnetic. Having seen this, I cannot imagine someone else playing Amir. He is both extremely charismatic and clearly troubled. The performance is phenomenal and likely one of the best I’ll see in a film from 2019.
If I have one nit to pick, it’s the climactic argument between Amir and his father. They choose this moment for speechifying and it comes off as the one moment where the movie feels like a movie, as opposed to a portrait of a confused and angry young man.
As Jenn said after the film: radicalism is radicalism, it doesn’t matter what religion or ideology. One of the things that this film does an excellent job of is showing how similar extremist Jews are to extremist Muslims and extremist Christians and secular extremists. This is not an overt point the film makes, but it’s clear to anyone who’s seen anything about any of these other groups. Those who do now allow for compromise and only see violence as a solution are the problem, regardless of ideology. This film does a really, really good job of showing how people like this are formed.
And I like so much of how this is portrayed here, how it portrays a complex picture of a person who chooses to become a terrorist and how a substantial chunk of the Israeli population is complicit in his terrorism.
Oh, and even though we know what is going to happen, the way they handle the ending is very, very well done.
See this movie. It is an extremely timely examination of how the public discussions of violence can lead to violence.