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ONE WEEK AND A DAY (SHAVUA VE YOM)

Nothing is as individual or personal as the grieving process, which is why Asaph Polonsky’s debut feature One Week and a Day is so effective. With a talented cast, he finds absurdist humor in the midst of sadness that is so obvious it need never be spelled out. A middle-aged Israeli couple (Shai Avivi, Evgenia Dodina) have lost their 25-year-old son, and the traditional mourning period (or shiva) is nearly over when the film begins.

Why is the couple so angry with their neighbors who were once close friends? Why does the taciturn father wind up goofing around with the neighbors’ grown-up son? How can the mother want to return to her job as a schoolteacher so soon after suffering such a wrenching loss?

These story threads make up the tapestry of writer-director Polonsky’s film, which was filmed in Hebrew and embraces both comedy and drama. Avivi’s deadpan look and delivery are perfectly suited to this material, which leads the audience down unexpected paths and never falls back on clichés or sentimentality.

An eleventh-hour sequence reminds us—and the leading character—what this is all about, and why people need some form of remembrance when a loved one is taken away. It also underscores the fact that while the film was made in Israel its emotional content is universal.

One Week and a Day opens today in New York and Los Angeles. For further details about upcoming theatrical playdates, click HERE.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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