You might expect trouble when a film whose title translates as “Away from my father” begins with a creepy older man in bed with a much younger woman. And you’d be right about Keren Yedaya’s Un Certain Regard entrant Loin de Mon Pere. Tami and Moshe are a father/daughter couple living in Tel Aviv. She’s a binger/purger who cuts on herself. He’s a middle aged pig who has more hair on his back than on his head. He sleeps with his daughter when he feels like it, slaps her around when she acts out and then forces himself on her anally whenever he feels the need to show her who’s boss which is often. When he gets tired of her, he sleeps around with another woman and chastises Tami for being chubby. In other words, Moshe is an early front runner for Worst Human Being to Appear in a Film at Cannes.
The truly horrifying part comes early on when you realize Tami is more upset that her father is cheating on her than she is that he’s abusing her in the first place. It’s made horrifyingly clear Moshe has groomed Tami to be his sex slave since she was a very little girl. It’s not her fault. She’s essentially been brainwashed for her entire sad life.
The first problem with a film this type is that it invites audience disengagement because the scenario seems to extreme to be believed. Too easy to pain Moshe as an anomalous monster when in fact the dynamic is supposed to represent an all to common dynamic between men and women everywhere. We live in a world after all where 200 Nigerian girls can be kidnapped into sex slavery simply because they had the nerve to seek out an education.
Fair enough, but it’s hard to know what else to take away from this film. It’s horrifying and sad but ultimately more numbing than outrageous. I’d love to be able to say at least that Maayan Turjeman delivers an amazing performance, but she’s not given enough to work with. It’s a gutsy performance, but Tami is barely allowed to exist as an actual human being rather than a rag doll being tossed from one man to another to be used as he sees fit.
On the other hand, the film does offer a bitter measure of hope in the end when it seems that Tami might finally be taking control of her own life. That’s hardly a character arc, but I guess it’s something.