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BERLIN 2016 Forum

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Inertia: A moving struggle for the desires reflected in our dreams


- BERLIN 2016: The impressive feature debut by Israeli director Idan Haguel exposes the timeless struggles of a middle-aged woman

Inertia: A moving struggle for the desires reflected in our dreams

Inertia is the first feature film by Israeli director Idan Haguel, and it promises to firmly grab its audiences right from the inside. Haguel exposes the timeless struggles of a middle-aged woman, as she progresses from an alienated life towards a hopeful feeling of autonomy. The film premiered at the 66th Berlinale on 15 February and is a promising competitor in the Forum section. The Forum is definitely the perfect setting for Inertia, a film that straddles the line between aesthetic accuracy and refreshing simplicity.

Mira (Ilanit Ben-Yaakov) wakes up one morning to the sound of her own shrill scream in an empty bed. The apartment seems strangely empty, and the newspaper is still lying outside the front door. Benny, her husband of 18 years, is not at home, and soon enough we realise that he is probably not coming back. When Mira learns that she is all alone, and all attempts to search for him have ended unsuccessfully, she allows herself to discover a life outside the dull confinement of her marriage. Mira realises that she didn't know her husband after all: an unfamiliar fishing rod in her closet and an awkwardly bold barkeeper only serve to confirm the estrangement of her relationship. The consequences of this realisation are, after this point, clearly visible in Mira. Suddenly she starts doing her hair, she looks for a job – which she eventually finds – and meets the white-bearded man of her dreams while reading the news on the beach. As Gidi, the neighbour from next door, says, “No good news is good news...”, and at least for Mira's process of self-discovery, it is indeed: her husband’s unexpected absence does not feel uneasy anymore; it is actually rather comforting.

Haguel never questions how or why Benny suddenly disappeared. And even when Mira poses the question, it still remains unanswered. Inertia belongs to Mira, and the director manages to represent this narrative commitment perfectly: there are no deviations, no digressions. The naturalness of Haguel's style, his unpretentiously simple mise-en-scène and devoted focus on Mira's often troubling facial expressions make her dreams and desires materialise in a unique manner. One might think that the incessant focus of the camera on Mira (almost all frames are dedicated to the main protagonist) together with the almost complete absence of a soundtrack could threaten the viewer’s experience of the film. Yet it is precisely this disturbing and at the same time touching apathy that shows us exactly what Inertia is: a self-affirming struggle to cut through all conformities in order to achieve freedom.

Inertia is a captivating and undeniably reinvigorating film that shows its audiences the art of getting up in the morning and suddenly standing on their own two feet.

Inertia is being sold internationally by Oration Films and Baseworx for Film. 

Basque Cannes
Jihlava Film Fund

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