A Place in Heaven, directed by Yossi Madmony, has epic overtones. As we follow the main character's life through decades of the history of Israel, however, we begin to see that the film is much more an allegory about the choices and character flaws of one man.
In the early years, Bambi (brilliantly played by Alon Aboutboul) was a heroic, reckless and cocky military commander, leading his men in battles against the fedayeen. As a cynical and secular Israeli, he sold his place in heaven to a young religious soldier who was in awe of him as a great hero of the Jewish people who would certainly have a place of honor in the world to come.
The film opens with Bambi's death, and the story is told in flashback. Even though we know when and where he will be killed, we find ourselves being caught up in the drama of whether he will ever be able to regain his place in the world to come and whether he is actually deserving of it in the first place.
The narrative centers around Bambi's personal life -- his love for his Yemenite wife, his relationship with his father-in-law -- set against the ongoing wars of Israel and Bambi's promotions in the Israel army. But the main drama is about his complex relationship with his son and his son's eventual decision to become religious.
Yossi Madmony's previous film, Restoration, was also about father-son relations and about memory. See my review of it on this blog.
A Place in Heaven (2013, 117 minutes) is available in the U.S. from Israeli Films.