IS THAT YOU? (2014)
Starring Alon Aboutboul, Naruna Kaplan de Macedo, Rani Bleir, Suzanne Sadler, Patrick Michael Kelly, Navroz N. Dabu, Amy Dourghty, Eiran Gazit, Rita Worlock, Patrick Michael Kelly, Davy J. Marr, Mike Pasquale, Celia Madeoy, Christine Shapiro, Gary Voegel, Hal Alpert, Jolie Alpert, Jane Babik, David Cole, Denise Cole, Bruce Cole-Edwards, Myles Cranford and Harv Popick.
Screenplay by Eshkol Nevo and Dani Menkin.
Directed by Dani Menkin.
Distributed by Lionsgate. 83 minutes. Not Rated.
You may think from the opening credits that Is That You? is designed as a tribute to classic Woody Allen – even going down to the very specific thin white typeface on black background of the opening credits.
While, yes, there is some of that here, this sweet and optimistic road trip film actually feels much more like Paul Mazursky’s sadly mostly-forgotten 1974 comedy-drama Harry & Tonto. Like that film, Is That You? is a fly on the wall as an older man and younger woman as they travel the United States, learning about themselves and each other and finally allowing themselves to experience life.
I am not drawing these comparisons to belittle Is This You?, in fact the fact that the movie can be comfortably compared to such high company is quite an honor.
The storyline of Is That You? is as simple and as malleable as time. After all, there is a reason that road trip movies have been a film standard since It Happened One Night. The idea of two strangers thrown into an adventure together, meeting new people and experiencing new worlds, is endlessly fertile ground.
Ronnie (Alon Aboutboul) is a 60-ish Israeli who has lost his life-long job as a cinema projectionist at home. As a severance gift, his old boss offers him a plane ticket to visit his brother in Los Angeles. Once he arrives there, his brother mentions that a couple of months before, he ran into Rachel, the one who got away from Ronnie many years earlier.
Ronnie hasn’t seen her in decades, they have both been married and divorced and lived a full life since they last met, yet he still thinks of her constantly. Remembering a long-forgotten promise that he would show up for her 60th birthday, which coincidentally is not that all that long away, he decides to track her down. He is not sure what he wants to say to her, nor does he know what he expects her to think of his sudden appearance, but he sets about trying to find an address for her.
After several false starts, Ronnie meets Myla (Naruna Kaplan de Macedo), a college film student who is working on a documentary of people discussing the road not taken in their lives. Myla makes him an offer – she will help him track down Rachel if she can film the search and the reunion for her movie.
As their trip grows longer and longer, the older man and young woman become friends, learning to care about their mutual lives and problems. They get more and more invested in their search, even as it turns out that Rachel may have gone much farther than they ever imagined. However, they are learning as much from the journey as they will from the destination.
I will not spoil the spell the movie weaves and tell if they ever find Rachel, that is something that you really have to experience for yourself. However, whether or not they reach their ultimate destinations, Is That You? is a bittersweet, charming and sometimes very funny film. It is definitely worth seeking out.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 14, 2016.