Besame Mucho: Israeli Joseph Pitchhadze’s Film Noir

Jerusalem Film Fest 2000–Besame Mucho, the sophomore effort of the talented Israeli director, Joseph Pitchhadze, fulfills the promise he has shown in his 1996 feature debut, Under Western Eyes.

In its wide canvas, large gallery of colorful characters, and bravura technical style, this film noir, co-winner of the 2000 Wolgin Prize for Best Israeli feature, recalls the work of such American filmmakers as Paul Thomas Anderson and particularly Quentin Tarantino; in fact, there’s too much of the Tarantino effect. Flawed narrative, which relies on several underdeveloped characters and awkward relationships, prevents this modern meditation on love from fully realizing its ambitious goal.

Nonetheless, Besame Mucho serves as an example of a new Israeli cinema that’s more concerned with innovative techniques and storytelling strategies than with contents or plot perse.

Set mostly at night in Tel-Aviv, this moodily noirish yarn revolves around a dozen lively but marginal characters who are directly or indirectly linked with the theft of a stolen Christian icon from an international crime syndicate.

Pitchhadze acquits himself better as a director familiar with noir’s visual vocabulary than as a writer of a thoroughly developed and engaging narrative. Ultimately, his picture, which boasts many impressive scenes, is too fractured for its own good.


A Terzo Mondo production. Produced by Mosh Dannon, Shai Goldman, Jospeh Pitchhadze, Dov Steuer. Directed and written by Joseph Pitchhadze. Camera (color), Shai Goldman; editor, Dov Steuer; music, Berry Sakharof; art direction, Yoel Hertzberg; costume design, Doron Ashkenazi and Inabl Shuki; sound, Gil Roren. Reviewed at the Jerusalem Film Festival (July 20, 2000). Running time: 114 min.


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