The Man in the Wall: Absence is torture
by Laura Nanchino
- Israeli director Evgeny Ruman releases his second feature film, the leading lady of which has just won an award at Odessa
The Man in the Wall by Israeli filmmaker Evgeny Ruman was screened last week in the international competition of the Odessa Film Festival (Ukraine), where its leading lady, Tamar Alkan, picked up the award for Best Actress. Unveiled in the Bright Future section of the 44th International Film Festival Rotterdam at the beginning of 2015, the film is Ruman’s second feature film, his first being Igor and the Cranes’ Journey, which was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2012.
Written and edited by Evgeny Ruman, The Man in the Wall is a psychological thriller that satisfies all three of the classical unities – action, time and place. On a rainy Friday evening at 18:23 sharp, Shir (played by Tamar Alkan) wakes up from a nap in the apartment she shares with her husband Rami (Gilad Kahana), and realises that he hasn’t come back from taking the dog for a walk, leaving his mobile phone and wallet at home. Shir soon starts to fear the worst and tries, in her agitated and progressively more worried state, to find an explanation for her husband’s disappearance (where is Rami? Why did he leave?), making calls and receiving a number of visits: from neighbours, the police, friends in common and Rami’s father. These and many more turn up on her doorstep over the course of this never ending sleepless night of torture and waiting.
Whilst Shir features in almost all 12 sequences of the film, divided into just as many time-slots (via the photography of Ziv Berkovich, which uses extreme close-ups of the actress in a sort of dance in the form of a huis clos lasting 90 minutes), The Man in the Wall is also a portrait of the absent man – Rami – constructed through what his nearest and dearest say about him, but above all of the couple, who do not seem as idyllically happy as the opening of the film would have us believe. Will the apartment and what is said there reveal their secrets?
The Man in the Wall (the title being a reference to a song that is very well-known in Israel and heard in the film), was produced by Chilik Michaeli, Tami Leon and Avraham Pirchi of UCM Films and received funding from the New Israeli Fund for Cinema and TV and the Israeli Fund for Film Production. The film was shot in six days in an apartment in Tel Aviv on a small self-imposed budget of €100,000, in a dozen or so takes. It had its national premiere on 14 July, at the Jerusalem International Film Festival.
(Translated from French)