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A hook up & Guy Zo-Aretz as Ronen, right (Photo: Regent Releasing/Here! Films)

Written & Directed by
Yair Hochner
Produced by
Eitan Reuven
Released by Regent Releasing/Here! Films
Hebrew with English subtitles
USA. 79 min. Not Rated
Tomer Ilan, Yiftach Mizrahi, Lucy Dubinchik, Guy Zo-Aretz, Liat Akta, Ofer Regirer, Oshri Sahar & Miss Laila Carry

Antarctica amusingly makes the point that men can be schmucks to each other like in so many heterosexual romantic comedies. But writer/director Yair Hochner makes this point over and over and over again.

Set in an anywhere-in-the-world Tel Aviv, the opening sequence establishes, with gimmicky split screens, Boaz (Ofer Regirer) quickly running through the handsome gay male population of the city with repetitive one-night stands (and less explicitly than in Queer as Folk). Two of his hook ups eventually turn out to be the film’s central characters, reclusive librarian Omer (Tomer Ilan) and young Danny (Yiftach Mizrahi). Only Omer’s lesbian sister Shirley (Lucy Dubinchik) seems to bring out her brother’s warmth and personality as she seeks his comfort from her own romantic turmoil and parental nudging. Danny surprisingly returns to Boaz’s apartment after he has been kicked out by his parents’ home (but that’s about all the back story there is on him, despite his lingering anguish).

After a jump to “three years later,” the rest of the film is a sexual roundelay, all connected to Boaz, with some suspense as to whether coincidences will be revealed as sex starts to matter less and a longer term relationship matters more. Aging seems to be the primary motivator in mulling over a lifestyle changeOmer faces his 30th birthday, and Danny, now a dance student, finds himself the object of a crush from a younger student, just like he had first attached himself to Boaz. The other characters mostly provide comic relief, such as when hunky journalist Ronen’s (Guy Zo-Aretz) interviews with alien abductees. The briefly seen lesbians mostly hang around a bar listening to morose chick singer/songwriters, though Shirley also wanders by travel agencies regretting that she hasn’t traveled like most of these young Israelis have, like, say, to Antarctica.

While the guess-who’s-coming-to-the-birthday party doesn’t quite result in the climax that seems to be slowly building, there are surprising twists at the end in who picks whom for a mature relationship, but not based on any particular on-screen chemistry. Hochner says he was “heavily inspired” by Michael Winterbottom’s lovelorn Wonderland (he could have also been influenced by Richard Curtis’s more comic Love Actually), but the acting, directing, and story are only a pale appreciation. Nora Lee Mandel
November 26, 2008



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