Told with the tumbling urgency of the deeply personal, the story of Forgiveness, Udi Aloni's portrait of an American-Israeli soldier in crisis, is notable mainly for its attempt to avoid the guiding grooves of the post-traumatic military narrative. The broad strokes (a callow enlistee with daddy issues returns from his tour haunted by his actions) are overlaid with an impressionistic vigor and thematic intricacy that, had the director not succumbed to their extremes—a kind of insular sprawl, creating distance where interiority is the intent—might have elevated the film from its moorings. David Adler (Itay Tiran) calls himself a "new Jew": Not bogged down by Orthodox traditions or his Holocaust-survivor father's legacy, David nevertheless decides to leave New York City and join the Israeli army. Convinced that Israel is his true home, David's abiding displacement is more old-Jew than he realizes. "You Americans are so sweet when you're Zionist," a repugnant, Arab-bashing fellow soldier chides, but David is no holy warrior; the Star of David he gets tattooed above his heart belies the dangerous spiritual void at the center of his "new Jew" identity. David's trauma, madness, and recovery (including a relationship with a Palestinian woman) is arranged as a puzzle of dreams, flashbacks, hallucinations, and strikingly choreographed numbers that, while occasionally dazzling, remains in pieces at film's end.
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