I suppose in Asaph Polonsky’s first full-length feature, One Week and a Day, nothing can be said to be certain except death and intoxication, the former of course bringing about the latter. With a dry and tentative sense of humor, he demonstrates how different people come to terms with grief as they struggle to move forward.
After sitting shiva for their son and sole offspring, Ronnie, a cancer victim, the Spivaks—Eyal (Shai Avivi) and Vicky (Evgenia Dodina)—gingerly go about getting back into their normal routine over the course of a day. As might be expected, it’s not easy: there’s a lot to do. Eyal, clad in shorts and sandals, isn’t up for the task—any task, it turns out. He decides to try a different approach when on a mission to retreive a blanket of many colors at the hospice where Ronnie died he instead finds his son’s medical marijuana—a humungous unopened foil bag of it.
There’s a lot of pot humor here: hiding the doobage in Eyal’s fly, toking up, hazy discussions, keeping the buzz on the D.L., playing ping pong and games that involve kittens, even an air guitar session with Zooler (Tomer Kapon), the next door neighbor’s son, a big stoner who works in food service and dutifully shows Eyal how to roll a joint (not with a gummy worm). Vicky, a sober school teacher with a lot on her plate, goes about her business jogging, going for a checkup with her dentist, and tutoring a young student in her home while Eyal and Zooler get baked. She gets an idea of her own. While all this is going on, Eyal has until 4:00 p.m. to confirm a reservation for two plots next to Ronnie at an already overcrowded cemetery, or he and Vicky forfeit them forever.
I enjoyed the offbeat humor of One Week and a Day, which has a few downright beautiful scenes—like Zooler’s pretend surgery to remove a hospice patient’s cancer for the benefit of her young daughter. However, the characters suffer from a certain flatness. When the smoke clears, though, this is a touching and often poignant story. The film neatly demonstrates that petty annoyances, drudgery, and boredom are all a part of life and persist even in the face of grief.
Screening followed by a live Q and A with director Asaph Polonsky.
(AMC River East) B-
Chicago International Film Festival