It’s hard not to wish for a moratorium on movies featuring any of the following: 1) people drawing clichéd life lessons from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”; 2) cutesy folk covers of Eighties pop songs (e.g., Bryan Adams’s “Heaven”); 3) kooky documentarians.
Just how kooky is Myla (Naruna Kaplan de Macedo), the filmmaker character in Dani Menkin’s wistful Israeli-American romance Is That You? Well, she has more than a passing resemblance to Zooey Deschanel, her movie is composed entirely of random folks expressing their lifelong — and rather banal — regrets, and, at the end of each interview, she insists on having her subjects flash their ugliest and prettiest facial expressions. This is meant to be adorably funny, but it isn’t.
More problematically, the movie’s hero, Ron (Alon Aboutboul), is supposed to be an incurable romantic, searching for a long-lost love who’s relocated to Canada, but he comes off mopey and sedated. His eyes don’t gleam, they droop, and there’s no sense of desperate longing in his quest. And when he crosses paths with the spitfire Myla — who of course centers her film on his journey — there’s no electricity, not even much lighthearted humor.
At times, Menkin tries to prove that he’s edgier than the material. He throws a few “motherfuckers” into the dialogue and a few sex jokes. But this is a maudlin, manipulative film, and while it’s never aggressively annoying, that’s only because it severely lacks energy. It registers like a pesky little sister who’s doped out on Vicodin.
Is That You?
Directed by Dani Menkin
Hey Jude Productions
Opens August 26, Cinema Village