“Let It Be Morning” (“Vayehi Boker”)
Metacritic (9/10), Letterboxd (4.5/5), Imdb.com (9/10)
Prisons come in a variety of forms – some imposed on us, others self-created – but, regardless of how they materialize, they all have the same impact: a means for keeping us locked in place. The myriad permutations they embody and the ways in which they affect the members of a family and their community provide the focus for acclaimed writer-director Eran Kolirin’s latest. This gentle comedy-drama follows the lives of a rural community populated almost exclusively by Palestinians located within Israel’s borders that suddenly and inexplicably goes on lockdown for an indefinite period of time, preventing anyone from leaving or entering. As the ordeal wears on, residents begin running out of supplies and their nerves become progressively frayed, prompting a growing number of standoffs, confrontations, revelations and even reconciliations as the characters all seek to free themselves from their confines, be they physical, emotional, psychological or relationship-oriented. But, as troubling as all this may sound, events unfurl in unexpected ways, often laced with humor, satire and heartfelt emotion. Developments tend to evolve somewhat slowly, but the payoffs are definitely worth it in a story that’s beautifully told and photographed, backed by a gorgeous original score. Admittedly the picture tends to be somewhat episodic at times, but it manages to cover all its bases and leaves no narrative threads unresolved. This Un Certain Regard Award nominee from the 2021 Cannes Film Festival seems to have taken a rather long time to make it to general release, but the wait was definitely worthwhile, a touching, sincerely realized work and a genuinely heartrending cinematic gem, one of the finest films to come out of Israel in quite a while.