“The Flat” review: my first Israeli movie

Have you ever watched an Israeli movie before? I haven’t, not ‘till I found “The Flat” as a recommendation for me on Netflix. I have a fair amount of French, German, Italian, Swedish and Japanese movies on my “watched” list, but an Israeli one? Well, there’s a first time for everything, and being the curious little creature that I am, I’ve decided to give it a go.

the flat

The documentary-style film is based in Tel Aviv and starts as director and documentarist Arnon Goldfinger, with the help of his family, decides to empty the apartment where his “yekke” (german-jewish) grandmother had lived for 70 years before she sadly passed away. Apparently, Arnon is, like me, the curious little creature of the family: going through his beloved nanny’s belongings didn’t seem enough for him. He wanted more. The somewhat fun and interesting task – a grandma’s house can be full of secrets – inspired the director to go deep in his family’s past, as he starts to find clues leading to a story unknown by the rest of the family.

Goldfinger’s first clue was a nazi (oh, here we go again!) propaganda newspaper found by his mother. What on earth could a nazi propaganda be doing in a jewish old lady’s flat? Looking for more clues, he eventually finds a connection between his grandparents, a nazi official and his wife: both couples have travelled together to Palestine during the 30s, which raises the second question: why on earth would a jewish couple travel with a nazi couple with the persecution of the jewish already going on in Germany? (the squad had fun, by the way. The pictures were there to prove it!)

Those clues end up pointing out to a rather complicated and shocking story involving family albums, old letters and memories from war times, interviews, the misterious friendship between people who were historically supposed to not get along very well and a very delicate subject that not everybody in the movie wanted to talk precisely about.

The Flat” turns out to be an interesting watch, especially for those interested in stories from a WWII context. As we watch Arnon dig into his family’s history and discover some very unusual events that were kept as a secret, you might feel like you want to find out – if you do not know already – more about your own family’s past: could they possibly be hiding anything from you?

(Available for streaming on Netflix US, UK, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden)