Film Review – The Kind Words
The Kind Words
In The Kind Words secret revelations about a family’s past seem to have no effect on a group of grown children who meander around for two hours never changing or growing. Dorona Cohen (Rotem Zissman-Cohen), the only daughter in the family, is currently separated from her husband Ricki Cohen (Tsahi Halevi) due to her infertility issues that make her feel like she isn’t a complete woman. She is currently living with her mother and spends time with her two brothers while ignoring her father who left their mother for a younger woman. But when their mother dies they learn that their father is infertile so they have no idea who their biological father actually is.
From the start this is a slow moving film. It takes half an hour to reveal the information about their father, then another half an hour to get them to start to explore what actually happened. This would be great if we were really looking at what they were going through. Supposedly Dorona is shown with her family to set up who they are, but this is done in vain since her two brothers are basically divided into the religious one, Netanel (Roy Assaf), and the gay one, Shai (Assaf Ben-Shimon). There really is no more to their personalities. Netanel keeps worrying that if the potential father isn’t Jewish then his wife’s family will disown him, while Shai wants to learn who their father is because he just wants to know, and Dorona and Ricki go along with it.
There is never a shift in these people especially Dorona. She is bitter and talks rudely to her brothers and husband. She occasionally talks to her dead mother who usually just repeats Dorona’s question back at her so a supposedly introspective moment actually adds no impact, not even to wonder why Dorona is seeing her mother. As a group they all sit around looking forlorn or get mad about what they have found out. Or vaguely talk about what is happening, but so much blends in that it takes a lot of effort to actually remember what it is they are exploring. The clues they follow have no sense of urgency and it might actually end up being too difficult to uncover what happened. This mystery is lessened because the first five minutes of the film give us a glimpse of some event from the past that easily fills in most of the blanks about what happened. Even if the children do not know we can guess enough to make their investigation uninteresting.
The film is trying to show in many ways that perhaps none of this really matters in the long run; that who these children are is who they are and what their mother did or didn’t do doesn’t matter. Okay, fine, that is a possible thesis but for this to work it would help if these people had personalities for us to examine to see how this changes them. Instead we are given a few character traits and the children walking around trying to get further details. The only other bit of information is the fact that they hate their father for leaving their mother. Great! So maybe part of the journey is that they were robbed of a father who could have loved them more? Or perhaps show that the man who raised them still has a place for them? Nope, he shows up once to say how he wishes they would have invited him to look for the possible father and slightly berates them and then that’s it, so no catharsis there. Does Dorona rethink her marriage? I guess maybe, but as to why this journey leads her to that is unclear.
What is the point of this movie? I kept asking that for the entire film up until it ended and I literally forgot I watched it! What is director/screenwriter Shemi Zarhin doing here? It is shot like it is a film that is taking its time to really develop its ideas and characters when instead it keeps making us think things are going to pick up but they never do. The mystery isn’t the hook so that leaves seeing how these characters deal with the mystery, but they do not change or grow or even reach a place of being okay with who they are and so the conclusion ends up being as uneventful as the journey.