A heartfelt Farewell

The writing/ directing duo Tel Granit and Sharon Maymon have managed to take a difficult topic – assisted suicide – and fashioned it into an effective, and affecting, drama with a universal, timely theme that transcends all cultures. To be sure, The Farewell Party (Mita Topa) is a film that plays on emotions … and sometimes preys on them, too.

Ze’ev Revach, who won Israel’s equivalent of the best-actor Oscar, gives a touching performance as Yehezkel, a retired inventor who picks up where Dr. Jack Kevorkian left off. Disillusioned by ailing friends, many in constant pain with no hope of recovery, he is persuaded to construct a device that will allow them to push the fatal button for themselves, thereby delivering a lethal dose of drugs – and, to Yehezkel’s mind, a death with dignity.

Granit and Maymon manage much of the time to maintain a delicate balance between humor (some dark, some less-so) and pathos, anchored by the fine performances of Revach, Levana Finkelstein as his wife Levana, and especially Aliza Rosen, as Yana, a stalwart friend who firmly believes in what they’re doing. The relationship between Yehezkel and Levana, who is rapidly descending into dementia, eventually becomes the principal focus of the story.

The Farewell Party does not shy away from the ongoing debate about the morality or legality of  assisted suicide, nor the emotional burden it brings upon Yehezkel and the others, but in the latter stages, most of its supporting characters and their respective concerns are jettisoned, which leaves some loose threads in the narrative. Nevertheless, it’s a moving and powerful experience, even at its most manipulative. (In Hebrew with English subtitles)

The Farewell Party opens Friday at a/ perture cinema, Winston-Salem !

LOG ONTO — click on the “Flicks” section. Then go to “What’s Showing”