Shalom Life | May 20, 2015

TJFF Review: ‘Anywhere Else’

Shalom Life reviews the award-winning feature from Ester Amrami

By: Ilan Mester

Published: May 7th, 2014 in Culture » Film » Reviews

The theme of figuring out where you belong is anything but new. In fact, it’s one used in nearly every film these days. However, Anywhere Else manages to take this popular theme and give it an original twist. And, for the most part, it works.

The indie flick tells the story of Noa (played by Neta Riskin), a 33-year-old Israeli transplant living in Berlin while she completes her master’s degree. Noa heads back home for an impromptu visit when funding for her dissertation – which revolves around untranslatable words – fails to come through and she starts to question her relationship with her German boyfriend, Joerg (Golo Euler).

At first, Noa enjoys the break from the harsh winter and the problems she left behind in Europe. But she quickly realizes that being back home isn’t all its cracked up to be. Mom Rachel (Hana Laslo) is warm and nurturing at first, but manages to get on Noa’s nerves. Meanwhile, older sister Netta isn’t quite welcoming and her dad (Dovaleh Reiser) is obsessed with a security shelter he built in the family garden. Noa’s younger brother (Kosta Kaplan), unlike her sister, offers Noa a warm welcome, but he’s also grappling with his own issues.

The only family member who seems truly happy and fulfilled is her good old bubby Henja (Hana Rieber). Unfortunately she falls ill early on in the film, which prompts Noa to extend her stay in Israel. The master’s student gets another surprise (this time a good one) when her German boyfriend heads to Israel and shows up unexpectedly, stirring up some memorable scenes with her family.

Speaking of surprises, Anywhere Else features a cool concept that ties in Noa’s dissertation. Every now and then, director Ester Amrami shows clips of her protagonist’s taped interviews where native speakers explain unique words (such as “Saudade” in Portuguese). Each word relates to what Noa is going through at the time, which is quite a refreshing concept. However, it gets a little old towards the end.

Anywhere Else is one of those films that finds the balance between humour and drama; there are some incredibly funny scenes, like the one where Noa goes to pick up her niece at school and almost takes home another baby instead. There are also some very touching moments, including practically all of Noa’s scenes with her grandmother.

At the end of the day, Anywhere Else is a heartwarming movie that avoids being overly sappy – and that’s a compliment.

For screening times, visit www.tjff.com.

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