Hadas Ben Aroya’s candid drama tracing the lives of young Israelis premiered in the Panorama program of the 2021 Berlin Film Festival.
Danny is pregnant by Max but cannot find the strength to tell him about it at a party. Max’s new girlfriend, Avishag, trusts him enough to be sexually relaxed with him, yet feels unhappy in this relationship. She sometimes walks the dogs of her older friend Dror, to whom she is really attracted.
The film has three parts and four characters, but many more storylines: a friend of Danny’s shares her own experience of an unplanned pregnancy with her; another friend tells how she followed her ex’s account on Netflix; Max confesses to Avishag that he likes men; while Dror is ashamed of his chubby body. All Eyes Off Me is composed entirely of hipster chitchat under the influence of booze and drugs, intimate exchanges of secrets, revelations, and poorly veiled lies. The fearless actors, especially Leib Levin as Max and Elisheva Weil as Avishag, are stripped literally and metaphorically to create voluminous, ambiguous characters.
Hadas Ben Aroya starred as Joy, a girl in a transition between two loves, in her debut picture, People That Are Not Me. The protagonist of her second feature, Avishag, is in a similar position, entangled in romantic feelings for the handsome and sexually active lover Max and the oddly attractive employer Dror. An invitation to reflect on the changing landscape of sexual relations and technology, the key role in the film belongs to music—from Christina Aguilera’s Hurt, the cover version of which Avishag listens to while walking the dogs, to Françoise Hardy’s Message personnel, to which Max confesses his love to Avishag. Longing for a past she never caught, Avishag tries to use a video instruction on YouTube to play a music record on a turntable in Dror’s house: the scene best describes the whole film, celebrating nostalgia for analog technology and true love.
The film will be screened in Hebrew with Russian subtitles.
All Eyes Off Me
Dir. Hadas Ben Aroya
Israel, 2021. 88 min. 18+