Monday, October 19, 2009



Tali Shalom Ezer
Director of Surrogate
Photo by Eric Roffman

What I like about Surrogate (an Israeli film -- shown at HIFF 2009 -- directed by Tali Shalom Ezer) is that it tells a very simple story very well.

Lana Ettinger & Amir Wolf

A man (Eli, played by Amir Wolf) takes a series of sessions with a sex surrogate (Hagar, played by Lana Ettinger), who helps him become more comfortable with himself, with other people, and with the fact that he was molested by his uncle as a young boy.

Within -- or bursting out -- from this simple story (almost like an archetypal fairy tale) are a myriad of other stories, some of which I will suggest in the form of questions. The simplicity of the story allows the richness of the world of the movie to be invoked.

=>Is the relationship between the man and the surrogate a love affair? Is it a false relationship -- much like the relationship of the uncle to the boy? Will it help the man? Or hurt him by having a loving partner disappear after a false affair, like the uncle's "love" was false? Is it false to Eli? Is it false -- or real -- to Hagar?

=>Is Hagar training Eli to make love to her the way she likes to be made love to? Perhaps the way the director wants men and women to relate physically? Or not? Is Hagar taking control of the physical lovemaking only because that is good therapy?

=>Has Eli's mother really been unaware her son was molested -- or is she in denial?

=>What is the relation between Eli and his own nephew? Is he afraid to get close to the boy? What is Eli's relationship with his sister? Is there a physicality to the relationships between all the family members that promotes? or spites? the possibility of "inappropriate" relationships? Or impedes appropriate relationships?

=>How many love stories are being told? And what is the relation between sex and love in the relationship? (Positive? Negative? Unrelated? Not applicable?)
Eli & Hagar?
Eli & his nephew?
Eli & his mother?
Eli & his sister?
Mother and the rest of the family?
The director & ??? (The story seems so personal as it is told that it feels like the director is personally invested in these relationships.)

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