Goldberg and Eisenberg (2013)
Editor’s Note: The following review is part of our coverage for the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, which ran from May 1st to May 11th. For more information please visit tjff.com or follow the Toronto Jewish Film Festival on Twitter at @TJFFtweets.
Goldberg and Eisenberg, the title characters of this romp, are the definition of mismatched, although they never should have been matched to begin with. Goldberg (Yitzhak Laor) is a lonely computer programmer, a dog lover, and he’s looking for love, although he’s not very subtle about it. He asks girl and girl out, even married ones, and one night after he’s been stood up on a park bench, a burly man named Eisenberg (Yahav Gal) walks up to him and starts talking to him. And things get weird. Fast. They meet up in the streets all the time, and Eisenberg won’t stop bothering him. It gets to the point of stalking, and then it becomes an obsession. Goldberg doesn’t know if Eisenberg wants to kiss or kill him; maybe perhaps both? As soon as the safety of others becomes an issue, Goldberg decides to do something about Eisenberg. But as far as making the right choices go to handle him…
Goldberg and Eisenberg, the title characters of this romp, are the definition of mismatched, although they never should have been matched to begin with.
Immediately after the movie was over, I looked up some quick research on this film. The poster is definitely ingenious. I also has the words “Israel’s Answer to the Coen Brothers.” I couldn’t help but chuckle. If that’s the selling point, maybe they’re basing it on the fact that every Coen Brothers film is just like Burn After Reading (a movie of theirs that immediately stood out based on the quote). Either way, the comparison is not very fair, only because there shouldn’t be a comparison especially for a first-time filmmaker in Carmi. Instead it should be said that he shows some talent. Also, he needs to be familiar with the definition of balance.
The issue isn’t that Goldberg and Eisenberg is dark; it’s all about intention. The dark parts were covered quite nicely. But it’s also clear that humor wanted to be mixed in with this-maybe not as a full-blown dark comedy but as a dark film with some hilarious moments. The problem is that the comedy aspects aren’t fully established. Awkward comedy, or in this case comedically awkward moments, are things of beauty if they’re done well. Awkward comedy in general is hard to nail. And sadly, Goldberg and Eisenberg couldn’t handle those moments very well. They just become awkward to behold, but at the same time Eisenberg’s character is willing to do anything to make the situations anything but. It’s sort of a catch-22. By the third act the film just gives up being funny and goes full on-dark. A little too much.
Awkward comedy in general is hard to nail. And sadly, Goldberg and Eisenberg couldn’t handle those moments very well.
Goldberg and Eisenberg is pretty much all about hopeless, but it takes it to a new extreme in the final act that’s actually a little too much. The movie’s barely 90 minutes and it’s understood that scenes need to be stretched out for time here and there, but the key last scene is just stretched out almost for the sake of being mean. And then, almost in a flash, it becomes too uncomfortable. Carmi definitely could have worked that to his advantage if he had found the proper balance of entertainment, wickedness and audience-invested value. A perfect balance of all three is pure nirvana, but sadly Carmi couldn’t get there. But kudos definitely has to be given for the use of Bruno Grife’s infectious score (definitely a keen reminder of popular British gangster films), and the cinematography by Ido Bar-On, which actually steals the show away the majority of the time and becomes its own star.
Despites a couple of stand-out aspects, Goldberg and Eisenberg is a dark film that’s just not quite sure about itself and gets angry & mean after it realizes that. Sort of like a bully? Perhaps...