All Eyes Off Me (Mishehu Yohav Mishehu)
The perils and consequences of sexual liberation are the main concern of this sometimes sluggish, sometimes intriguing film. Three interconnected episodes comprise the drama, all of which feature a young woman named Avishag (Elisheva Weil), following as she negotiates a febrile house party, rough intercourse with her partner and an ostensibly tender connection with an older man. Extended scenes of intimacy are allowed to play out at a gradual pace, which isn’t inherently a weakness, and some of the dialogue is suitably open-ended and unresolved.
That said, Hadas Ben Aroya’s direction seems to only feign interest in images, and the general tonal flatness and interminable sequences undercut the instances of intended social commentary and dramatic potency. The roaming camerawork captures drug and caipirinha-fuelled exploits while the static shots depict prolonged sexual gratification (or not). These are appropriate but incurious choices: they neither provoke psychological interest nor superficial pleasure. Perhaps that’s partly the point: there’s a certain blankness to a lively existence, rarely factored into coming-of-age tales.
Trying on numerous different personal identities can amount to a hollow centre, the filmmaking implies, and the desire to look cool and relaxed with cultural norms can preclude worthwhile self-examination. Ambiguities surrounding consent feature throughout. Some half-attempted bestial metaphors – butterflies for freedom, dogs for constraint —– represent the wider themes, and the glitter of revelry is posed against the muted colours of the morning after. Dreams and ambitions of an Israeli generation collide with the complications of growing up.
YouTube is a lived reality: one excellent sequence has Avishag watch an X-Factor clip on her phone. The viewer sees over her shoulder for the duration, before we pan round to her tearful reaction. The closing section involves her relationship with the wise and sympathetic Dror (Yoav Hait), a bald man with a ballooning stomach. Distant and respectful, his face a source of consternation, Dror becomes slowly entangled in Avishag’s affections as a notably hazy glow swamps the pair. It’s a suggestive display of both control and agency, security and chance. But these remain thin characterisations, undeveloped from immediate traits, forming a collection of figures that fail to communicate an idea.
All Eyes Off Me (Mishehu Yohav Mishehu) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for All Eyes Off Me (Mishehu Yohav Mishehu) here: