Review: Bikur Ha-Tizmoret (The Band’s Visit, 2007)

tibur

Words cannot describe how badly I want one of those sky blue uniforms!

Written By: Eran Kolirin
Directed By: Eran Kolirin

Communication is key in life, a lack of communication results in plenty of loneliness and forlorn nights. Bikur Ha-Tizmoret is an odd comedy with deeper meaning that is mainly about communication. Unlike the bloated and unrealistic Babel, Bikur Ha-Tizmoret is honest with its scenarios and its characters. They aren’t put into life or death peril, they aren’t stereotypes, they are people who live in a day and age where communication is not a strong suit for most everyone. Eran Kolirin allows us to get to know the highlighted characters, to feel the possible love between Tawfiq and Dina that is slapped harshly to the ground by their inability to be straight forward with one another. We immediately take notice of Haled, and it his ability to freely communicate with all those around him, whether they want him to or not, that affects the other characters in the film. Bikur Ha-Tizmoret doesn’t hit us over the head with its theme, but it gives us more than enough realism and time with the characters so that we understand what it is trying to say and can appreciate said message.

Beit Hakiva is a desolate town, devoid of life, and with nary a drop of hope in sight. That is why the arrival of the strange Egyptians in their sky blue uniforms spurs Dina into action. She is clearly a woman bored with her life, bored with her surroundings and looking for anything to give her a spark out of her doldrums. In his own solemn way Tawfiq ends up being that spark, and it may not be a spark that will last but, along with some subtle, well not all that subtle, nudging from Haled, Dina finds something to take her out of the ordinary. Even if only for a day, that is enough in the desolate surroundings of Beith Hakiva. That desolation is captured wonderfully by the camera and it is accentuated by the way the characters talk and interact with each other. There is no rush in Bikur Ha-Tizmoret, you sense that these people have nothing but all the time in the world. In a visual sense Bikur Ha-Tizmoret is slyly beautiful, you don’t realize how well crafted the imagery has been until after the film has stopped.

Like I said in the beginning, lack of communication is the clear theme in Bikur Ha-Tizmoret. However, in order to get that theme across the film takes on a slight comedic tone, a very droll comedy at that. The type of comedy found in Bikur Ha-Tizmoret isn’t for everyone, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people find it quite boring. But the low-key comedy put on display by the entire cast helped to elevate what was a quaint little picture into something great and worthwhile. Awkward humor always gets me, and the humor in Bikur Ha-Tizmoret got me right from the start.

Bikur Ha-Tizmoret does suffer from some moments of characters being in the right, or wrong, place at the perfect time and while not a big issue those moments did take me out of the film a little bit. But, the performances from all the main characters more than make up for it. I didn’t find that one stood out more than the other, although clearly Sasson Gabai as Tawfiq and Ronit Elkabetz as Dina leave the biggest impression because their story dominated most of the film. In a film such as Bikur Ha-Tizmoret that strives to be odd, real and touching you need a great cast of characters. Whatever faults you may find in Bikur Ha-Tizmoret, the cast will not be one of them.

Bikur Ha-Tizmoret is a somber, droll, quiet little film with plenty to offer anyone that is into dry comedy or is willing to take a seat and allow the narrative to play out. Bikur Ha-Tizmoret isn’t trying to be an important film, nor is it trying to be a funny film, yet somehow it ends up being both and a great film to boot. Bikur Ha-Tizmoret is definitely worth a spot in your queue, especially if you are into dry, sardonic looks at life.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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