EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE (Israel, 1986)
During World War II, before the U.S.A. joins the fray, American Tom Hanks , the son of a pacifist minister, joins the Royal Air Force. In 1942 Jerusalem, recuperating from a wound, he meets , through a British fellow-officer who marries a Jewish girl, the 19-year old daughter ( Cristina Marsillach) of a large Sephardic family. It's a Romeo and Juliet romance (but with a happy ending) which runs afoul the conservatism of the girl's people . These are not shown as particularly intolerant or Orthodox, but they are still quite determined to prevent this sort of alliance.
Granted that this basic theme has been explored before, this movie's particular context is original. Writer-director Mizrahi brings a great deal of authenticity to his subject, his people and his treatment. He has a sharp eye and ear in his observation --objective yet warm-- of the expanded family. Note how well staged, among other sequences, is the Sabbath meal to which Hanks is invited. Mizrahi covers quite a bit of territory: the people's prejudices; the workings of patriarchy and matriarchy; the traditionalists who may hurt others in their honest conviction that "they know what's best"; the affectionate yet second-class treatment of women in pre-Israel days.
The heroine's own hesitations are perfectly captured. In an unspectacular (and, I wager, not costly) but intimate way, location shooting, settings and period reconstruction add truth and interest . The background does not obtrude yet it sketches in nicely some of the life and mentalities of the times.
The acting, mostly low-key, acting is realistic, convincing and helped by the naturalness and ordinariness of the entire cast. Nice British and American pop tunes of the period, well sung, add to the period's atmosphere.
The work is unusual in another way: much of its dialogue is in Judeo-Spanish (a.k.a. Ladino or Spaniolit), with clear subtitles. This is the only film use of this language I know of, though Ladino surely is present in other, but unexported or little distributed Israeli productions. There is a rich variety of Ladino accents here. Linguists should enjoy this movie doubly and might detect that some of the older people have intonations different from those of Miss Marsillach's, which show the influence of standard, mainland Spanish.
"Every Time..." has solid, international production credits. It was Tom Hanks's first serious film, was underrated or dismissed in the few reviews I have seen, went by and large unnoticed in the US and moved rapidly to television. I believe that even then it was only sporadically shown until, later, the growing prestige of Hanks brought about frequent shedulings on cable. This is understandable, but the film's appeal extends to the rest of the overwhelmingly Israeli cast too. The actors may be familiar to Israelis (especially Gila Almagor) but unknown to most others. A pity, since some of the same performers, in a big Hollywood production, would probably have advanced their career beyond the modest boundaries of Israeli cinema.