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November 4, 2011

Some people hate slowly-paced movies.  I don’t, at least not for that reason.  But I’m not guaranteed to love a slow movie just for that reason, either, as evidenced by Restoration.  It fits together on paper okay, I suppose, but on the screen it just fizzles and goes nowhere. I can’t even fill out five-hundred words; there’s just no there there.

Yakov Fidelman (Sasson Gabai) and Maxim Malamud own an antique furniture restoration business.  Or, I should say, “ran”, as we open with Malamud’s death.  And his death brings with it a host of surprises.  First of which is the fact that instead of leaving his share of the partnership to his partner, he’s left it instead to his Fidelman’s son, Noah (Henry David, I think).  On top of that, they quickly find that the shop had been losing money for years, and Yakov is at an age that makes it difficult to get the capital infusion the business would need.

Fidelman’s wife evidently died young, leaving him to raise his son alone.  A challenge for any father, it’s worse for Fidelman since he deems bereft of any sort of normal expression of compassion.  So now these two men who barely know how to be in a room together find themselves in business together.  Noah, at least, is about to make partner in his unspecified profession, which keeps him out of the shop.

To pick up the slack, Fidelman hires Anton (Nevo Kimchi, though I may have the younger men switched), who is a bit of a mystery.  He’s avoiding someone, and takes to living in the shop rather than having another address.  We’re told later that his family is rich and he’s slumming it as a laborer, but there’s almost no evidence to support this, and it doesn’t seem to affect his character or the action in any way.  E possible exception is the fact that he can recognize a century-old Steinway piano gathering dust under another pile of furniture.

And that seems to be the overarching problem here: nothing seems to have much of a purpose.  There is a whole subplot involving a dalliance between Anton and Noah’s wife (Sarah Adler) that goes nowhere and doesn’t seem to even be a foil for anything much.  I think the central idea is supposed to be Fidelman’s reflections on his life and such, and Gabai does a really good job portraying him.  But to what end?

The result is — for all its foreign critical acclaim — a hazy, unfocused mess centered on a gem of a performance.  Even what there is of a conclusion ends up feeling tacked-on and artificial as it resolves the one clear plot-line in sight.

Worth It: no.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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