The Farewell Party: it’s OK to laugh about death
by Vittoria Scarpa
- After receiving the BNL Audience Award at Venice Days, the dramatic comedy about euthanasia by Israeli duo Tal Granit & Sharon Maymon will be screened in Toronto
An old lady speaks to God on the phone, or at least that’s what she thinks. The Almighty advises her to continue her medical treatment because she doesn’t yet have a place in Paradise. Really, it’s an ordinary man on the other end of the line, and he’s not even that all-powerful given that at one point he errs and names the lady’s dead husband (but she never in fact married) thus blowing the cover on his scam. The opening of The Farewell Party [+see also:
interview: Tal Granit & Sharon Maymon
film profile] by Israeli duo Tal Granit & Sharon Maymon is striking; it immediately sets the tone of the movie: a film that deals with death, but always with subtle irony.
Having its world premiere at the Venice Days of the 71st Venice Film Festival, The Farewell Party certainly merited the BNL Audience Award (with 97.39% of the votes) and will be screened in the coming days at the Toronto International Film Festival. Made in Israel but co-produced by Germany, it portrays five elderly guests in a Jerusalem nursing home who, no longer able to watch their friend suffer, build him a euthanasia machine. Things should end there, but when word gets out about the existence of this machine, other lodgers request to use it. Yehezkel, Levana, Yana, Doctor Daniel (a vet) and Rafi, thus become a sort of sweet death squad that stealthily moves in and out of the patient’s rooms, briefcase in hand.
A funny version of Valeria Golino’s Miele [+see also:
interview: Valeria Golino
interview: Valeria Golino
film profile] (Honey) almost comes to mind. “I’m almost 90 years old and they’re letting loose on my body as if I was 16”, says a cancer patient determined to put an end to her life. But, the machine jams on her, she pushes the button and the power fails, twice, and in the end she reconsiders. In The Farewell Party, however, it’s not all comedy, quite the contrary. There are also moral dilemmas, conflict between the five friends, and the moment of operating the machine and separating from their loved ones brings with it the inevitable emotional burden. The most dramatic moment occurs when one of the “gang” asks to use the machine. But friendship and profound love will pave the way forward. Credit must be paid to the cast: Zeev Revah, Levana Finkelstein, Alisa Rozen, Ilan Dar and Rafael Tabor are all exceptional.
The Farewell Party is produced by Pie Films, 2Team productions and co-produced by German Pallas Film GmbH and Twenty Twenty Vision, with the support among others of the Israel Film Fund and of MDM Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung. International sales are entrusted to Beta Cinema.
(Translated from Italian)