There have been numerous writeups on Natalie Portman’s directorial debut A Tale of Love and Darkness in which she also stars in a very important role. The most (in)famous one was the write up by The New York Times magazine where she “forgot” her pants for the photo shoot and where she talked about coming to terms with being an Israeli, and how it affects her identity in America.
The movie, set against the backdrop of Israel and Palestine seemed the like the best choice for her directorial debut. Based on the best selling book by Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness is the story of a young boy is set towards the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the early years of the State of Israel.
The film revolves around the boy’s relationship with his mother, and his coming of age story in the hard atmosphere he lives in. The trailer alternates between shots of the young boy with his mother (Portman) and his journey to adulthood, which makes the trailer utterly confusing. It almost seems as if random scenes have been strung together to make sure Portman looks stunning enough to attract viewers.
Though the story’s dramatic arc doesn’t seem as impressive as it should be, cinematography from Slawomir Idziak (Black Hawk Down, Gattaca) is just short of spectacular.
The camera shows landscapes and mansions that add to the grandeur and historical tone of the movie. Following a premiere at Cannes Film Festival last year, A Tale of Love and Darkness opens on 19 August in the US this year.