Asaf Saban’s debut feature film, Outdoors (Bayit B’Galil), is a compelling look at a marriage. The film takes place and was shot over the course of a year -- we watch as a house is built, a marriage slowly collapses, and a pregnancy takes it course.
Ya’ara and Gili are in their 30s, parents of a 7 1/2-year-old girl. Ya’ara has recently finished her occupational therapy course of studies and is pregnant with their second child. Gili is a struggling theater writer and director.
When Ya’ara’s parents pass away and leave them some money, they decide to buy a plot of land and build their dream house on the same mountaintop in the Galilee where Ya’ara grew up. But leaving their small apartment in Tel Aviv for the open spaces of the Galilee will not solve the tensions already smoldering in their marriage.
The entire film takes place on the mountaintop, especially the construction site, where the concrete slab and then the prefab home is slowly taking shape. The house rises from the hilltop, as their marriage progressively deteriorates. It seems that the pressures of building a house, and all the choices that it entails, are quite a burden. Ya’ara is shocked that Gili doesn’t agree with her when she wants to widen a window! And when she finds it difficult to choose the ceramic floor tiles, she is hurt that it’s not as momentous a decision for him.
The film’s narrative intertwines a catalogue (without much depth) of persuasive marital issues including financial worries, professional disappointment, memories of teenage sexual adventures and high school rivalries. Although it borders on melodrama, I must admit that there are some emotional moments, realistic acting and beautiful landscape photography.
Outdoors is available from Go2Films.