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.