Sunday, September 13, 2009

Five Hours from Paris

Yigal (Dror Keren) is a taxi driver who seems content in his life. Divorced, Yigal is still close to his ex-wife and her new husband, even to the point of thinking about going into business with him. When his son has problems in music class, Yigal goes to visit his son's music teacher, Lina (Elena Yaralova), and soon becomes enchanted with her. But Lina is married, and she and her husband are in the midst of applying to Canada for residency and may soon depart. What follows is a slow dance between Yigal and Lina as they grow to know one another, only to have to eventually face the obstacles between them.

Dror Keren plays Yigal in an understated manner befitting the character. You can see the small changes and victories in Yigal's life as he and Lina grow closer to one another. Yaralova is also good as Lina, and you can see her struggle with her dilemma between remaining true to her husband of many years and following her heart. The film eschews the conventional path of what one might normally expect in such a story on film, at least in the west. Five Hours From Paris is an intimate film that provides a mature look at a romance between two people with real complications in their lives.

Director Leon Prudovsky and actor Dror Keren were in attendance and stayed for a Q&A after the film:

  • Most of the music were old French songs, and Prudovsky (originally from Russia) and his co-writer Erez Kav-El (who grew up in Belgium) listened to these songs growing up and when writing, and worked that into Yigal's character.
  • Keren was pleased to see a warm response for a film that mixes two cultures and languages. He loved the script from the first reading. Woody Allen said once that the heart is a very flexible organ and the film shows that. It's a complicated question but also very simple; when love comes, what do you do with it? Do you stand up and fight for it? In theory this odd couple shouldn't be together. He loves the feel of the film and the result.
  • They auditioned about 100 children for the film. Was hard to find a girl who could act and play the piano and speaks Russian. Finally found a 13-year old girl. For Yigal's son, the actor they settled on was not what Prudovsky had originally envisioned (he had thought of a fat kid), but when he came in to audition, he asked questions that an actor of 20 years of experience would ask.
  • They got many questions when shooting about how they ended the movie. Many wanted to know if Yigal actually flies to Paris, but Prudovsky thinks everyone thinks for themselves. It was a very precise way he ended the movie.
  • Prudovsky thinks the film is about the small changes we make in life, very delicate, very small, so he's glad people noticed. This was the first time they screened the film for a non-Hebrew audience, and there are small nuances and dialogue, but he felt the audience got it.
  • Keren phrased it as on Yigal's way to win Lina's heart, he wins his own.


Saw this one, too -- and agree with your assessment. So enjoyed the mood this film established: reminded me of The Band's Visit -- small steps, little connections.

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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