“Forgiveness”: A Subtle Israeli Comedy: Toronto 2021 Jewish Film Festival

Yes Israeli criminals can be big bunglers as we see in “Forgiveness”. I would say it is a low toned comedic film full of subtleties you might easily miss if you are not familiar with Israeli society. At times its premise is delightfully absurd.

Shaul and Nissan are robbing a post office safe. Shaul is a safecracking wizard and he cracks the safe and hands the money to get away guy Nissan whose bumbling as getaway guy sets off car alarms and results in a vigilant neighbourhood hearing about a breach by “terrorists” into Israel gets the police in the area to nab Shaul and Shaul is rewarded with jail time. Nissan in the meantime has become an Orthodox Jew full of religious platitudes and he has hidden the money from the heist.

Shaul is married and has a daughter Noam who is a ballerina who has been awarded a partial scholarship to ballet school in London which will be an expensive endeavour. Noam is one stereotypical ballerina with heavy makeup and hair pulled back. She has a similar chance of being a star ballerina as a select hockey player has to join the National Hockey League but you know how proud parents are.

Shaul as an ex-con can’t find a job and is drifting away from his marriage to his wife Orna. So it is back to Shaul and Nissan to pull a caper against Bedouin hashish dealer Nabil suggested by crime kingpin Arthur so they manage to penetrate the marriage of Nabil’s son under heavy security and crack the safe and escape with loads of cash but their van is destroyed by a rocket from Gaza along with the cash. They then become indebted to Arthur who sent them on the Nabil heist. Arthur says to Shaul if you can’t deliver the money that was lost in the rocket attack your daughter’s legs will be broken and she will never dance again.

Shaul and Nissan then rob Arthur who realizes the cash they repay him with is his cash as it smells of horse manure as Arthur had hidden the cash in his stables. So as Nissan and Shaul are digging their graves with Arthur looking on they find the money from the post office caper Nissan had buried. And then the terrorists from Gaza break through tunnels and a firefight ensues with Shaul and Nissan surviving with a boatload of cash and enough to send little princess Noam to her flighty ballerina dreams in London and win back Shaul’s wife.

The absurd element here is an Orthodox Jew being part of a heist. The negative element is the terrorists being gunned down in a firefight. Israeli’s always win that battle? And there is the scene in the bomb shelter where a disgruntled Israeli woman says we should send bulldozers in and flatten Gaza, sarcastic humour? Then the often-heard air raid sirens during the film.

So Nissan has earned the forgiveness of Shaul and now can marry his Orthodox sweetheart.

A few barbs at the Gaza terrorists. A few barbs at Orthodox Jews.

Not a hilarious film but full of subtle chuckles.

Part of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival that can be accessed virtually between June 3-13.

This 2019 film is directed by Guy Amir and Hanon Sayvon and is 104 minutes with English subtitles.

To purchase tickets, check out the Toronto Jewish Film Festival at https://tjff.com/toronto-jewish-film-festival-2021/

You can see the trailer here https://tjff.com/films/forgiveness/

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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