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Review – A Tale of Love and Darkness

A Tale of Love and Darkness Poster

A Tale of Love and Darkness Poster

Natalie Portman makes her directorial debut in this adaptation of the best seller by Amos Oz. She also wrote and stars.

If you think the name of this movie sounds like the title of a poem, you’d be right – this movie is like a poem. A rather long, rather depressing, poem.

An autobiography, young Amos grows up in Jerusalem at the end of the Palestine Mandate, in a Jewish household. His father is a somewhat less than successful Hebrew scholar and his mother (a haunting Portman), a romantic dreamer. Suffice to say, things are not smooth sailing. War, antisemitism, social unrest, and family hardship are the norm as he tries to make sense of life, holding on to his innocence the best he can, finding joy and love where ever possible, though darkness is ever present. Eventually darkness, it seems, overtakes everything and dreams are for naught. Like I said, it’s a rather depressing, somewhat cynical, poem even as it presents historical and emotional insight.

Richly dark and bitter, with a warmth to it as well, Love and Darkness is like a strong cup of black coffee. Some will savor it, others will find it not to their liking at all. Like a poem, it is infused with imagery, metaphors, and wordplay (all in Hebrew, by the way) to the point where even one of the characters asks “is this all an allegory or what?” There are many layers and levels to it, from a broad look at the tumultuous history of the state of Israel to a mother fighting depression when life doesn’t live up to her dreams, to a young boy just trying to figure out how he’s supposed to grow up and what he’s supposed to think.

A bit too dark and wandering for my taste, there’s not a lot to hold on to or be guided by here, making it a difficult film to maneuver. I imagine for some (though not me personally) it could be a very rewarding experience in the end. It’s just too much, and not enough for me though. Too much dark, not enough love. And not enough direction. The book is, I understand, non-linear and it shows. While the movie follows a timeline, it bobs and weaves through events with the cadence of free verse poetry combined with the solemn beat of a dirge. Unsettling and less than enjoyable, even if profound and beautiful, this poetic film lives somewhere perhaps unattainable except for those who crafted it.

Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film

Brother Hamster did not screen this film

My rating: Three out of five hats.



A Tale of Love and Darkness is in limited release.

One thought on “Review – A Tale of Love and Darkness

  1. Greetings! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading through your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thanks!


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