Dir: Josh Appignanesi, 2006, UK (81 min)
Joel Chalfen, Nathalie Press, Leon Lissek
Set in the Orthodox Jewish community of North London, Song of Songs is a wilfully cryptic portrait of incestuous violence and sexual desire. Joel Chalfen gives an intense performance as a troubled school teacher who has rejected his background, with emerging talent Nathalie Press (My Summer of Love) as his devout sister returned from Israel to bring him back into the fold and make peace with their dying mother.
As a debut feature it is difficult to measure how much of the film’s ambiguity is actually confusion on director Appignanesi’s part. Certainly the film’s style is distinctive – we follow characters through the streets viewing the backs of their heads, the cold tones linger in dark places as characters hide behind curtains and pivotal events of the past are alluded to but never explained. It is good to credit an audience with intelligence, but the film ranges from intriguingly enigmatic to frustratingly incomprehensible. Kate Taylor