Intimate Grammar (2010) MIFF Film Review


This film broke my heart. It is a raw and tragic film showing the pain and depression of a young boy who does not fit into his world and has no one who understands this.

It all starts when Arahon is an eleven-year-old growing up in Israel in the sixties. There is a hint of the atrocities of the Second World War, but this is mostly seen through the parents trying to raise two teenagers with no parental role models to draw on. Already, Arahon is small for his age, and this becomes more pronounced as the film progresses through the next few years. His friends hit puberty whilst Arahon stays small and under-developed. He is a smart child whose philosophy shows he has a different understanding on the world to those around him. However, his father is distant, his mother is always yelling and untrusting, and his sister, who he is close to, is taken from him.

Initially, I found the film beautiful and quite humourous, but the isolation of Arahon increases as the film continues and I found it quite harrowing. Perhaps it was especially difficult because he does look so young, and it is quite confronting to think of children suffering this kind of existential dilemma. Roee Elsberg gives an outstanding performance as Arahon, capturing his pain and frustration with the world in a very subtle performance.

It seems that films told from the point of view of a child are a staple of film festivals, and often they can reveal things about people and society that other perspectives could not reveal, or certainly not in the same way. Often, I find that they tend towards being clichéd and melodramatic. But, for me, this is a good one. Whilst it is quite long, it is beautiful and memorable.

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