Rabin, the Last Day (NR)

Drama 153 min. January 29, 2016
By Diana Clarke
In 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot after attending a public rally. Rushed to the hospital, he died hours later. His assassin, Israeli ultranationalist Yigal Amir, is in prison for life, having achieved his goal: Without Rabin, the tentative Palestinian-Israeli peace process collapsed. Where's the story in an ending like that? Rabin had managed what no other Israeli politician could: showing formal recognition of Palestine and receiving recognition of Israel's statehood from Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestinian National Authority, with whom Rabin had signed the Oslo Accords. The two men were going to make peace.

In Amos Gitai's new film Rabin: The Last Day, the slain prime minister barely appears; instead, Rabin is made tangible by his absence.

We can never know what might have happened in some alternate universe in which Rabin survived, and Gitai is more interested in what's unknown about the assassination because of omission. Using interviews, archival footage and reenactments, Gitai evokes the moment when the possible futures changed.

The film, neither documentary nor fiction, suffers from an excess -- or perhaps a narrowness -- of empathy. Reenactments of Amir's interrogation are bookended by footage of the Israeli army forcing Jewish settlers from their homes on Palestinian land. We watch in slow motion as the men, twinned in their physicalities, fall to the earth. It's hard to tell if this is news footage or facsimile, but the pulsing crowd has the righteous flavor of a civil-rights riot.

And that's the problem. By glamorizing struggle and ideology across the Israeli-Jewish political spectrum, it once more invites empathy for only half of those locked in the conflict Rabin was trying to solve.
Amos Gitai Yaël Abecassis, Ischac Hiskiya Kino Lorber Films

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