Schrader’s Israeli Love Life premieres in Rome
by Boyd van Hoeij
23/10/2007 - German actress Maria Schrader (Rosenstrasse [trailer]) presents her directorial debut Love Life [trailer] today at the RomeFilmFest as an Out of Competition offering. The English-language film is based on the bestselling novel by Israeli author Zeruya Shalev and explores an unbalanced relationship between a young Israeli woman and a much older family friend.
Ya'ara (Netta Garti) is a married university worker in Jerusalem who immediately feels attracted to Arie (Serbian actor Rade Serbedzija) when introduced to him by her father (Stephen Singer), who tells her he was a friend of her parents from before she was born.
Ya’ara relishes Arie’s attention, but he feigns disinterest and makes her pay for his occasional flickers of interest by humiliating her, akin to the emotionally masochistic relationship another female novelist, Margaret Mazzantini, imagined in Don’t Move, later filmed by her husband Sergio Castellitto. Though Love Life never reaches the same intensity as Castellitto’s film, Garti’s performance is on par with Penélope Cruz’s stunning turn in the Italian film.
Schrader explained that “Ya’ara is not a victim. She is neither weak nor blinded by love. She carries out a kind of experiment on herself and on him and what looks passive is in fact active. Arie's seeming independence, recklessness, provocation, radical opinions and evident world knowledge – all this makes him so erotic and seductive that Ya’ara voluntarily gives in to him in her search for something that forces her to make decisions, to finally feel life with all its power”.
The film was produced by Stefan Arndt for German outlet X-Filme Creative Pool together with the Israeli outfit Transfax Film Production and with backing from Bayerischer Rundfunk, ARTE, Filmstiftung NRW, German Federal Film Board, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, BKM and the Israel Film Fund.