QUICK AND DIRTY: LIVE FROM TALLINN
Merav (Shiri Gadni) is a woman probably in her early 40s. She lives with her partner of around the same age (Tom Hagi) in a middle-class house, located within a large city somewhere in Israel. The couple dream of having a child. After her menstruation stops for a couple of months, Merav is convinced that she is carrying his baby, but medical examinations reveal that there is no faetus. The doctor asserts categorically: Merav has a false pregnancy, she is sterile and if she wants to be a mother she should adopt a child instead. Merav does not challenge him, however she decides to carry the gestation to full term and even go into labour.
It is never entirely clear why Merav wants to put herself through the wringer for no apparent purpose. She is not delusional: she does understand that no child has been conceived. She is simply adamant that such experience is essential for her, for psychological reasons that she never lays out and we are only left to speculate. The only plausible explanation is that she wants to have a taste of motherhood, even if it isn’t the real thing. A little bit little like going on holidays in Blackpool instead of Paris in order to see the Eiffel Tower. Those around Merav are unimpressed: her husband and her mother (a famous actress recognised wherever she goes, and played by Idit Teperson) begs Merav to terminate the pseudocyesis, but she demands that they respect her decision. A close friend shares the tragic story of a dog that died following a false pregnancy, releasing the fury of our annoying protagonist.
Predictably, Merav becomes increasingly unhinged, and not everyone around her is prepared to stick around for as long as she expects. Like the film title suggests, her pregnancy is unusual in more ways than one, and it indeed lasts beyond the nine months threshold. Her belly gets shockingly big, proportional to the despair of those who have stood by her all along. By the end of the film, Merav is the picture of neurosis, and any attempts to help can only make her anger escalate.
Idan Hubel’s sophomore feature is a very simple and straightforward drama at just 80 minutes. And it has remarkably little to say. There is very little to no character development and contextualisation, leaving audiences to guess the circumstances that led Merav to such incoherent behaviour. There is no examination of the complex psychology that could lead a woman to such extreme behaviour. Did she lose a child earlier? Is she desperate to save the relationship with her husband? Is this perhaps a vicarious experience, because her mother could not get pregnant? We will never know. This combined with Gadni’s lukewarm performance (there is no chemistry whatsover between the couple in the lead) prevents audiences from feeling any allegiance towards the protagonist, and to engage with the movie more thoroughly. Teperson delivers the most humanistic performance, but that naturally isn’t enough to sustain the movie. The middle-of-the-road camerawork too does remarkably little in order to lift the story. The outcome is mostly boring and cold.
Ten Months just premiered in the Official Selection of the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.