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'Time Of Favor'

'Time Of Favor' is a romantic thriller set in Israel

Friday, May 03, 2002

By Barry Paris, Post-Gazette Movie Critic

Who can tell the heroes from the villains in today's agonized Israel? A powerful pair of brothers illustrates that factual as well as fictional dilemma in Joseph Cedar's "Time of Favor."

'Time Of Favor'

RATING: PG-13 in nature for adult love and political themes

STARRING: Aki Avni, Tinkerbell, Idan Alterman, Assi Dayan

DIRECTOR: Joseph Cedar



Menachem (Aki Avni) heads up a new company -- a religious one, different from other elite units. A star yeshiva student, he was trained to be a military leader. Meanwhile, his bookish brother Pinchas (Idan Alterman) has been tracked to become a great Torah scholar -- and to marry the rabbi's daughter, Michal (Tinkerbell).

Both young men are under the thrall of this Rabbi Meltzer (Assi Dayan, son of Moshe Dayan), a charismatic radical who wants to build the Third Temple now and encourages his students to die for what they believe in. "The land of Israel is bought with pain," he declares.

"That's what he'd say if I were killed in a terrorist attack," says his alienated daughter. "The more it hurts, the more my father likes it." Michal resents "being a prize for the latest yeshiva genius" and rejects Pinchas in favor of dashing Menachem -- much to the consternation of his deep fraternal loyalty.

Avni as Menachem resembles the young Tony Curtis -- a strong, silent type -- and is excellent. Tinkerbell, who is not especially pretty, likewise shines. Best of their lovely scenes together is a nighttime hand-shadow game that reveals their budding love.

The key to it all is her father, who (like Ariel Sharon) is obsessed with going to pray at the Temple Mount, heedless of the consequences. Rabbi Meltzer is clearly a fanatic -- but is he dangerous? The Israeli secret service seems to think so and sets forth to determine which of his two stellar disciple-brothers is the real violent instrument of the rabbi's beliefs.

"Time of Favor," intriguingly written to shift our suspicions from one passionate patriot to another, is an atmospheric romantic thriller whose portrayal of the insane internecine Middle East struggle contains an unpopular but correct bottom line: Jewish extremists breed killers (of Yitzhak Rabin, aside from Muslims) not much different from Palestinian suicide bombers. Choosing sides, as the Bush administration would have us do, is absurd.

The victims and villains are the same.

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