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Huss, R. (1980). Each Other (Israel, 1979). Direction, story, and screenplay by Michal Bat-Adam. Producer and artistic collaborator: Moshe Mizrahi. In Hebrew and French with English subtitles.. Psychoanal. Rev., 67(1):143-145.

(1980). Psychoanalytic Review, 67(1):143-145

Film Review

Each Other (Israel, 1979). Direction, story, and screenplay by Michal Bat-Adam. Producer and artistic collaborator: Moshe Mizrahi. In Hebrew and French with English subtitles.

Review by:
Roy Huss

This new film by Michal Bat-Adams (who also directed Madame Rosa) is an admirable, if not wholly successful, attempt to dramatize the growing sexual attraction of two young women—Anne, an Englishwoman, and Yola, an Israeli—for “each other.” Intense feelings begin to develop as the two about Tel Aviv as tourists and reach a climax some years later when Anne visits Yola in Jerusalem after the latter's marriage.

The basic problem with the movie is that the two principals are so inhibited about expressing their feelings that the writer-director (who portrays Yola) seems hard pressed to find objective correlatives in setting, action, words, or cinematic technique to convey them to us. Moreover, since it is obvious that we are expected to regard the growing lesbian relationship as more “natural” than “pathological,” there is no clear set of symptoms for us to focus on.

But effective dramatic symbols fortunately need not be tied to symptomatology. One sequence in which the filmmaker is willing to move away from the surface realism of her story achieves a certain poetic power, although its full meaning can be inferred only in retrospect. The scene is an eerie tour by candlelight of one of Tel Aviv's catacombs, conducted for the two women by a speechless young boy. He is a kind of juvenile Ulysses leading them into a subterranean Hades, which here (as in Dante) can be taken as an analogue for the depths of the human psyche. The silent boy shows them how the Christians were laid to rest in the womb-like hollows in the cavern's walls, and then he and Yola, their candles suddenly extinguished, disappear into the darkness, momentarily leaving Anne alone.

As in a dream, the meanings of the episode seem richly overdetermined. The mysterious mute boy is perhaps Yola's yet-unborn son, who will later become, by his mere existence, another impediment to the women's inclination to act upon their emerging lesbian feelings. Yola's impulsive disappearance, which she engineers by blowing out her candle and remaining quietly in the dark, adumbrates the many denials of a feeling self that she manifests later. Unlike much else in the film, this scene brilliantly succeeds in rendering a psychological complexity by utilizing a basic element in the film medium, a montage of light and dark.

The Englishwoman Anne seems less confused and more direct about her sexual orientation than her Israeli friend.

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