Three new Israeli feature films opened this week in Jerusalem. I chose first to go see The Testament (העדות), directed by Amichai Greenberg, because the story sounded compelling. A Holocaust story, it is about a modern-day investigation of an Austrian cover-up of a massacre of Jewish laborers, near the end of the war. The film is shot both in Jerusalem and in Austria, which provides an authentic and realistic feeling to the historical story.
Joel, the chief investigator, is an ultra-orthodox Holocaust scholar who becomes obsessed with the investigation. During the course of his work, while he is interviewing witnesses, he stumbles upon a woman who coincidentally knew his parents, back in the Ghetto. She gives him an old photo which leads him to dig deeper into his family’s past and to uncover a shocking discovery. This is a complex story and the news, which is tragic and shameful for him, causes him to question his own identity.
I was disappointed in the portrayal of the main character, the Holocaust scholar, who is so obsessed with his work, that he becomes a one-dimensional character. He is without charm, doesn’t show any warmth to his colleagues or his family members, and cannot wrap his head around the shocking news which brings him to cruelly confront his own aging mother.
The Testament portrays a fascinating slice of history, but it is a disappointing film.