A Tale of Love and Darkness

Critics Consensus

A Tale of Love and Darkness suggests greater things for debuting writer-director Natalie Portman -- even if its reach slightly exceeds her creative grasp.



Total Count: 64


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Movie Info

A Tale of Love and Darkness is based on the memories of Amos Oz, growing up in Jerusalem in the years before Israeli statehood with Arieh, his academic father and Fania, his dreamy, imaginative mother. They were one of many Jewish families who moved to Palestine from Europe during the 1930s and 40s to escape persecution. Arieh was cautiously hopeful for the future but Fania wanted much more. The terror of the war and running from home had been followed by the tedium of everyday life, which weighed heavily on Fania's spirit. Unhappy in her marriage and intellectually stifled, she would make up stories of adventures (like treks across the desert) to cheer herself up and entertain her 10-year-old son Amos. He became so enraptured when she read him poetry and explained about words and language; it would become an influence on his writing for the rest of his life. When independence didn't bring the renewed sense of life that Fania had hoped for, she slipped into solitude and sadness. Unable to help her, Amos was forced to say an untimely good-bye. As he witnessed the birth of Israel, he had to come to terms with his own new beginning.


Makram Khoury
as Halawani
Shira Haas
as Fania Mussman
Gilad Kahana
as Arieh Oz
Ohad Knoller
as Israel Zarchi
Henry David
as Colonel Jan
Dina Doron
as Grandma Klausner
Varda Ben Hur
as Operator
Maria Belkin
as Pharmacy Customer
Gera Sandler
as Staszek Rudnicki
Tomer Kapon
as The Pioneer
Mor Cohen
as Zerta Abramski
Silvia Drori
as Malka Rudnicki
Or Shefer
as Garibaldi
Itzchak Peker
as Grandpa Klausner
Moni Moshonov
as Old Amos
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Critic Reviews for A Tale of Love and Darkness

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (19)

  • Whereas Oz's material, at its best, considers the nuances and subtleties of language, Portman's script reduces his writing to platitudes and cliches.

    Sep 1, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Portman ... paints a portrait of the Jewish state's fraught history, all with the confident authority of a filmmaker who is years beyond her debut.

    Aug 26, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A Tale of Love and Darkness loses itself in dreamy imagery, in its studiously crafted aesthetic. But there are times when Portman lets the toughness, the tenacity, the emotional heart of Oz's story shine through.

    Aug 26, 2016 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • While A Tale of Love and Darkness is often difficult to watch -- because of all the sadness it presents -- it is also a beautiful film in that it makes us think about existing in a world where we do not completely fit in.

    Aug 25, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • [Portman] has filmed the book according to its emotional meaning to her, and that's fine. What she hasn't done is whip it into shape as a compelling movie.

    Aug 25, 2016 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • A passion project for the Jerusalem-born Portman and told primarily in Hebrew, she shows early promise behind the camera.

    Aug 25, 2016 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

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