HERE WE ARE – Review
The soundtrack to Charlie Chaplin’s THE KID opens the father-son tale HERE WE ARE, award-winning Israeli director Nir Bergman’s heart-warming, insightful drama about a father’s devotion to his son, who is on the autism spectrum. Dad Aharon (Shai Avivi) willingly gave up his successful career as an artist to care for his son Uri (Noam Imber). The two are very close and have built a life of reassuring routine that involves Chaplin’s film about a father and son, trips on the train, bike rides, and pasta stars for lunch. But Uri is a young adult now and Aharon’s ex-wife, Uri’s mother, Tamara (Smadar Wolfman), thinks it is time for him to move to a group home with other young people with autism. Tamara supports father and son financially and, further, a judge agrees with her and there is a court-order that allows her to move her son to the nice facility she has picked out.
Aharon resists, insisting Uri is not ready, but eventually he is resigned to the move. The day of the move, Aharon and Uri take one of their train outings in the morning but when time comes to go home and get ready to move, Uri has a melt down and refuses to get on the train. Aharon makes a snap decision to go on the run with Uri, convinced his son is not ready for the change.
The journey takes them through several locations, a road trip that proves to be an eye-opening experience, revealing strengths and limitations of both father and son, aspects obscured before in their quiet routine. Bergman’s beautifully constructed film uncovers these details in masterful style but the power of the film finally rests on the two wonderful performances at the story’s center. Both Shai Avivi as Aharon and Noam Imber as Uri are outstanding, flawlessly portraying nuances of the characters and their close relationship. Bergman brilliantly uses the Chaplin film as a touchstone, another story of a close father and son fleeing the authorities, evoking it through the recurring music and clips and moments in the story.
The film gives a touching and realistic view of the challenges of autism and Noam Imber’s performance shows us a young man who is his own person, not just his diagnosis. Shai Avivi’s performance as the father is moving, touching, filled with love and commitment to his son, and doing what is best for him.
HERE WE ARE is a wonderful, moving film experience, one well worth seeking out. Director Nir Bergman, and actors Noam Imber and Shai Avivi all won Ophir Awards, Israel’s version of the Oscar, three of the four this Israeli-Italian drama won. This human drama touches our hearts, but also offers an honest portrait and true insights on their experience, until the story reaches its satisfying conclusion.
HERE WE ARE is part of the virtual St. Louis Jewish Film Festival 2021, which starts Sunday, June 6, and runs through Sunday, June 13. Tickets are $14 per film, or an All-Access Pass for all 13 festival films, plus a bonus short, is $95. Tickets and passes give viewing access to all members of a household. All films and discussions can be viewed anytime during the festival, except for BREAKING BREAD, which is only available June 6-8. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the festival website at stljewishfilmfestival.org.
RATING: 4 out of 4 stars