“Restoration” is dark, plodding, lugubrious, but ceaselessly overwhelming in its myriad of messages. Commencing with a death and concluding with a birth this tense, tightly -wrought slice of life rejuvenates and transforms all the principals.
“Yakov Fidelman” (succinctly depicted by veteran actor Sasson Gabai) has lost his lifelong business partner, Max; they specialize in restoring the depleted beauty of antique furniture. Fidelman is a master craftsman who seductively strokes and erases the vestiges of time, years of abuse, neglect; he is the lover who with devotion and adoration awakens the glory masked but always lurking beneath the surface of his subject. The business, gasping to stay alive, is drowning in financial turpitude.
“Anton” (Henry David) is handsome, talented, enigmatic, young; Fidelman hires him as his assistant; their partnership is tumultuous, vacillating between harmony and strife. Anton understands Fidelman’s quest to salvage his dying and obsolete trade. He discovers a piano and strives to resurrect its pristine lineage; he woos the viewer and inadvertently “Hava” (Fidelman’s daughter-in-law) as he plies the dying cords and keys. The 1882 Steinway with its cracked frame is a metaphor for bifurcated, broken creatures; if it can be cured, perhaps redemption can be clasped by all.
Fidelman’s son “Noah” (Noah Kimchi) has inherited half of the business from the deceased Max; he sympathizes with his father’s dilemma and lack of business acumen but his realism and distain threaten their tenuous father/son relationship.
Noah’s pregnant wife “Hava” (Sarah Adler) is scintillating, titillating and exudes tangible sensuality; Anton finds her magnetism tempestuously irresistible . Their attraction constitutes a compelling component, at times problematic, but essential to the validity and triumph of the film.
Secrets, discoveries unearthed, souls stripped bare, converted to an alternate course. Director Joseph Madmony’s “Restoration” is thick with subtleties, unanswered questions; so much richer than blatant, bludgeoning moralizing. This is Israel, a Jewish state, imbedded in countless years of history and tradition; briefly at the commencement and conclusion we witness the laying of Tefillin (phylacteries) practiced from the age of thirteen at morning prayers; boxes containing biblical verses from the Torah, worn as a remembrance that God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. “Restoration” resonates with hope, optimism and promise; no matter how intransigent, change is always an option, choosing to tread the wiser and oftentimes more adverse path, can result in acceptance, purification, peace.