Chained (Eynayim Sheli)
Yaron Shani’s Eynayim Sheli, or Chained, drips with dramatic irony. This dark, gripping and intense film follows Rashi (Eran Naim), a police officer in Tel Aviv, and shows in great detail the many ways in which his life gradually unravels. It is a deft interrogation of loneliness, masculinity and pride with an ending that jolts the audience into startled understanding of what precedes it.
After being accused of sexually harassing teenage boys in the park while searching them for drugs, Rashi, suspended, and disgraced, finds himself in an unfamiliar position. What he values and holds dear, upheld in part by his job, is stripped away from him. This is the beginning of chain of losses that eventually culminate tragically.
In Rashi, the viewer meets a complex and largely unlikable protagonist. Eran Naim, an untrained actor, superbly interprets a character whose fragility is haphazardly fortified by layers of masculine pride and excess. We see Rashi even more forcefully implement his once state-sanctioned control within his home to disastrous effect, leading him to be dismissed from there too. The film deals with the explosive convergence of these two spheres through the exploration of his relationship with his stepdaughter Yasmin (Stav Patay).
Chained has all the trappings of a classic domestic tragedy. The main character, suffering under an excess of pride, commits a grave error of judgement as a result of it, refuses to participate in any level of self-reflection, loses credibility and power and only begins to question himself when it is too late. Momentarily, the picture even seems to evoke Shakespeare; like Lear, Rashi, halfway through the film, finds himself stripped naked (again an ironic inversion of the strip search he carries out on the teenage boys), coming to terms with his desolate situation.
One of the most striking elements of the movie is the protagonist’s phone, or rather its ringtone, which croons “our life is cherry sweet…” The phone rings with ever-dwindling frequency, and the messages conveyed through it become increasingly destructive, the “our” in the song taunting the loneliness in Rashi’s reality.
With Chained, Shani produces an uncomfortably recognisable figure, and somehow forces identification with him. Although we may not want to, we find ourselves pitying him. The film is interspersed with news footage and seems to issue a warning, that what may be unbelievable, tragic and distant, is perhaps closer than we like to think.
Chained (Eynayim Sheli) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.