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Peter the 3rd.  A Film by Tommy Lang    cover photo

Peter the 3rd. A Film by Tommy Lang 2015


Distributed by Ruth Diskin Films Ltd., P.O.Box 7153, Jerusalem, 91071, ISRAEL
Produced by Tommy Lang & Amir Gedaliya
Directed by Tommy Lang
DVD, color, 88 min.

College - General Adult
Israel, Widowhood

Date Entered: 10/28/2016

Reviewed by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, MA

This wry comedy reveals a slice of Israeli life involving Peter, an aging, small-time actor at the brink of retirement who has been widowed for two years, his buddies, and Alona, the pretty 20-something waitress who serves the men in a Tel Aviv coffee shop where they meet and hang out together daily. The dialog is in Hebrew, with English subtitles—understandable at a superficial level by non-Hebrew speakers. Similarly, the interactions among the characters are to some degree particularly Israeli, and might be hard for non-Israeli viewers to grasp readily.

The plot hinges on Peter’s pension, which he and his pals decide he should augment and insure by getting himself elected to the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, whose members receive excellent benefits during and after their legislative service. To accomplish this goal, they initiate a campaign for a widows and widowers political party that would provide a special resort, fancy food, etc., for a week every year for every eligible Israeli. (Understanding the nature of Israeli politics and its rewards for members of the military is necessary to follow this thread.) Subplots abound, including Peter’s estrangement from his daughter and possibilities for his future love life, Alona’s future career and her love life, and the troubles of one of Peter’s friends, who is in a love-hate relationship with his twin brother.

The story proceeds with many twists and turns, some very funny, others serious, and still others bittersweet. To its credit, the film avoids the explicit sex scenes viewers usually see in both Israeli and Hollywood films today, and Peter, Alona, and the secondary characters are portrayed well. While not as polished as the best Israeli fiction films, Peter the 3rd succeeds nicely in telling its story. One scene in particular, of the main characters in the empty auditorium of the Habima Theater, is memorable. On the whole, this is a feel-good comedy set in Tel Aviv spoofing some distinctly Israeli issues. However, it is hard for this reviewer to fathom what academic courses viewing it could enrich.

While Peter the 3rd is likely to entertain Israeli viewers as well as non-Israeli viewers who have at least some familiarity with Israelis and Israeli lifestyles, it does not seem likely to support academic studies. It will find a better home with general public library collections.