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The Independent Critic

Liron Levo, Sarah Adler, Emil Knebel, Veronica Nicole, David Fire
Assaf Tager
104 Mins.

 "Andante" Review 
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Fans of more experimental cinema may find more to love in Assaf Tager's Andante, a film that takes place in a post-industrial world where people are no longer able to dream. A factor run by Mr. Terrier (Liron Levo) sells the dreaming experience to the sleepless masses (I never figured out why). Sarah (Sarah Adler) is the lone surviving dreamer, and she sets out to reach the only place where she can get answers to her strange night-time visions - the dream factory.

If you would weave together Trent Reznor with Michel Gondry, the woven together film might resemble Tager's Andante, a film that has a massively dark and techno feeling to it that should delight those who love their cinema to be more philosophically challenging. A rarity among Israeli film in that it exists comfortably among the sci-fi/thriller genre, Andante is hard not to admire on some level simply out of admiration for Tager's willingness to move away from the usual Israeli historical, political and cultural examinations. Andante, though, all too often feels like it's a "wannabe" film, a film made by a direction who has watched just enough sci-fi films to make himself a bit dangerous when approaching the genre himself. Tager, a first-time helmer with a history of directing rock music projects, doesn't do a horrible job here but the final product is so convoluted and unnecessarily busy that it's clear he doesn't quite grasp the essence of the sci-fi genre. Andante is all style without substance.

Andante kicked off its festival run at last year's Jerusalem Film Festival, and has played at a few others before arriving in Indianapolis as an official selection at the 2011 Indy Film Fest where it's a finalist for the IMA "Culturally Adventurous" Award. I'm assuming that culturally adventurous translates to "pretentious and inaccessible." The film was nominated for three awards by the Israeli Film Academy in the areas of Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Music.

It's difficult to speak too much to the film's performances given that they are overwhelmed by the film's technical manifestation, including the rare utilization of CGI in an Israeli film. The film's technical achievements are definitely respectable, but Andante feels more like experimental performance art than it does anything resembling an actual film.

It will be interesting to see if Andante registers with the usual fans of Israeli cinema, but more likely it'll be the fans of hardcore experimental and industrial/grunge music and cinema who appreciate the film the most. Ultimately one of the year's more disappointing efforts at the 2011 Indy Film Festival, Andante is an interesting step in a new direction for Israeli Cinema but here's hoping that Tager decides to add a lot more substance the next time out.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic