Here We Are, 2020.
Directed by Nir Bergman.
Starring Shai Avivi, Noam Imber, Smadi Wolfman, Efrat Ben-Zur, Amir Feldman, Sharon Zelikovsky and Natalia Faust.
Aharon (Shai Avivi) looks after his autistic son Uri (Noam Imber) fulltime. Their relationship is delicate, routine and grounded in trust. When that connection is threatened by a disruption, Aharon decides to take Uri on a journey.
This delicate two hander which compassionately explores the subject of autism, is anchored by a mesmerising performance from Noam Imber. Opposite Shai Avivi as his father Aharon, Noam Imber imbues Uri with an innocence and purity rarely seen in cinema. Meanwhile, director Nir Bergman channels silent movie motifs alongside visual symbolism, displaying his mastery of the medium.
As the film unfolds it becomes clear how much Aharon has sacrificed for his son, maintaining both a stable home life and essential routine. As actors, their performances are most effective in the silences and isolated moments of solitude. Visual stimuli combine with an instinctive understanding, as Aharon wraps Uri in a cocoon of repetition. Even his mother Tamara, played with an understated naturalism by Smadi Wolfman, barely registers in this relationship.
Muted conversations go on between Tamara and Aharon, which depict loving parents with conflicting agendas for a son who remains oblivious. That these scenes remain convivial, grounded and effective has much to do with the trio on screen. Even off screen Noam Imber dominates every scene quietly, concisely and consistently in an organic transformation which defies description.
An emotional outburst featuring hand held cameras and bemused bystanders is riveting. As trains come and go, pedestrians fane indifference and communications break down Uri goes into a tail spin. Frustrations come out through self harm, verbal anguish and emotional overreaction. There is no gloss, no showboating and no holding back from Uri as Aharon struggles to contain things.
Rarely has there been so much trust shown on screen between two actors, existing so inherently within the moment. It is one of numerous examples peppered throughout this father son travel log, which can never be replicated. As Aharon and Uri continue their odyssey and the father reconnects with his past, something becomes clear. Aharon has come to be more than a parent to his son. Their road trip gives him time to re-evaluate, regroup and come to terms with the separation which must happen.
Writer Dana Idisis has penned a screenplay of such poignancy, that Here We Are resonates beyond the cultural boundaries of its native country embracing universal truths. There is such a deep rooted understanding of this central relationship, that global audiences will be caught off guard. Film maker Nir Bergman, who won Best Director for Here We Are at the Ophir awards, has only underlined the power of cinema with his latest offering. That Dana Idisis, Shai Avivi and Noam Imber won for Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor should also come as no surprise.
Combining a subtle and sensitive cinematic discussion around autism, Here We Are embraces recognised genre tropes to discuss the challenges of modern day parenting. With comedic asides, moments of dry wit and a uniformly excellent cast it deserves the largest possible audience.
Here We Are will be released in UK cinemas on July 23rd.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★