Being single and living in the city sure can be tough. You never know who you’re going to meet as you walk down that street or stroll through the park. You randomly meet new people and sometimes you keep seeing the same ones. Is it fate that you keep running into each other or is there something more at play here? The thought of having a stalker can be novel at first but could easily become quite scary. Scarier still is dealing with bullies. It’s a sad part of the human condition and Oren Carmi’s film Goldberg & Eisenberg takes a dark but sometimes humorous look at how a meeting seemingly by chance turns into something far more sinister.
Goldberg is a mediocre computer programming. He always takes a stroll through the park with his faithful dog while he looks to meet members of the fairer sex. One fateful night while waiting for a girl to arrive he has an encounter with a large, brash, curly-haired man name Eisenberg who stops to share a few words and some strange poetry. He certainly is a strange character and can come off as annoying. Over the next several days Goldberg has encounters with Eisenberg often times under the worst circumstances. With each successive encounter Goldberg begins to fear for not just his safety but the people around him as well.
Bullying and stalking are very sensitive subjects. In light of tragic events that have occurred due to uncontrolled bullying, Carmi manages to dance along a fine line with his darkly comic and uncomfortably awkward examination of the relationship between a bully and his victim. If one has never experienced this type of situation Carmi does a good job of conveying to the viewers the uneasiness one would feel when in awkward scenarios such as those presented in his film. The embarrassment, the feeling of being trapped and the paranoia are on display here.
Of course none of this would be very convincing or engaging if it wasn’t for the performances of his two leads, Yitzhak Laor and Yahav Gal. Laor does a fine job of portraying Goldberg’s nebbishness. He seems to be just the type of person who leaves himself susceptible to bullying. Giving Goldberg an ineffective assertiveness provides some interesting drama as he tries to stand his ground. Gal is fantastic as Eisenberg. You never know what he’s up to, if he’s messing around or if he is just flat out psycho. He’s a very interesting character who reveals more and more about himself as the film goes on but again you are left to wonder if he’s full of it or is he being truthful at that moment. Roni Dotan also stars as Noa, a woman Goldberg just started seeing when Eisenberg begins intruding on his life. Noa gets caught up in the proceedings and Dotan does a good job of portraying the concerns she has regarding Goldberg’s situation.
As events escalate you begin to wonder just where is this going what will the end game be. There will certainly be some debate about the ending of the film. Did it go too far? Did it go far enough? The end does require a small leap of faith on the viewer’s part but it does kind of work when all is said and done. The problem is that it follows the film’s best sequence, an uninterrupted single take between Eisenberg and Goldberg that is full of tension that you could literally cut with a knife. Again, it wraps things up and does work in the context of the film. Not the route this viewer would have preferred but so be it.
Carmi has made a slow burn thriller that proves to be an interesting examination of the relationship between Goldberg and Eisenberg. It features very good acting by the leads, some tense sequences and a few awkwardly funny moments. It’s a decent psychological thriller, a pretty good directorial debut and will leave one wondering just what will Carmi do for an encore.