Peter The Third (29th Israel Film Festival)

This is the kind of movie we go the festival for: A bunch of old guys hang out in a coffee shop all day, when they learn that the waitress (after a breakup, I think) is sleeping in the restaurant till she gets her act together. One of the old guys, Peter offers to have her come stay with him, and before you know it, the two of them are elbows deep in meddling with each others’ lives.


It’s really hard to get good screenshots from the IFF movies. Don’t expect much.

Peter is an actor, a bit player for 20 or 30 years or more at the same theater, a widower, and estranged from his daughter. Alona, the waitress, works night and day, to what end we are not told till midway through, but she has talent as a writer she is not pursuing. Her love life is a mess, though she’s been pursued by the same guy for 15 years (since 7th grade!) she won’t give the time of day to.

She signs him up for a dating site. He hectors her about not writing. She comes home late, very close to having a drunken tryst in his apartment, which pisses him off, but they both get over it within a few hours. There’s something very Israeli/Jewish about how quickly they adopt a parent/child relationship and how pure that relationship is. (There isn’t the faintest suggestion of the least bit of romance between them—at least a suggestion of romance would probably be mandatory in an American or English film. Imagine it being Colin Firth and Kiera Knightly, you know?)

The story is powered along by an idea that the old guys have, as they’re all scraping by on whatever pensions they have: Peter should run for the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and get all the perks that those guys get! At first, they dismiss the idea because, essentially, it’s too much work. You need to have a platform, and collect signatures, etc.

But before long, they start to take the idea seriously, or at least as seriously as anyone in Israel seems to take politics. (Which, really, should be “very, very seriously indeed”, but you’d never know it from these movies.) The idea they come up with is a widow/widower party where old people should be allowed to go to a widow/widower camp and frolic for a week every year.

Another nice thing about this being an Israeli film is that I don’t have to fulminate on the proper uses of government. Heh. They have a tiny theocracy; things are very different there indeed.

Anyway, the journey is fun and full of colorful characters, and much like Galis, it is utterly benign and genial. There are no great evils here, just people trying (often poorly) to get along in life and deal with its myriad disappointments and struggles. The endings are happy when people rise above their petty squabbles, and not when they don’t. It’s really as simple as that.

The Boy and I enjoyed it.

I wasn't kidding.

I did warn you about it being hard to find good stills.

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