Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 22, 2013
Have you ever had a person that couldn’t take a hint? Someone you wished would just leave you alone? A nuisance with no self-awareness or sense of propriety?
No matter what story you have Jonathan Goldberg (Yitzhak Laor) can trump it. An oddball computer programmer with a desperate desire to connect with women and few tools to accomplish it, Eisenberg spends much of his time in the park with his dog in Israeli director Oren Carmi’s feature “Eisenberg and Goldberg.” One evening in the park he is approached by a wild-eyed curly haired guy who introduces himself as Eisenberg (Yahav Gal) and then proceeds to read some non-sequitur poetry.
Goldberg escapes from the awkward encounter, but Eisenberg has no interest in a one-time meeting. He forms an immediate obsession with Goldberg and stalks him in the park on a daily basis. At first the conversations just seem absurd and innocent, and the scenario of a socially maladjusted obsessive spending days trying to convince another man to accept him as part of his life harken to the dark and strange humor of the Coen brothers – there are even a rogue group of idiotic Nazis (yes, in Tel Aviv), reminiscent of the nihilists in “The Big Lebowski,” who serve as heavies for Eisenberg.
The one-sided relationship has an undertone of danger that boils over once Goldberg begins a relationship with a woman that drives Eisenberg insane with jealousy. What started out as an almost endearing annoyance turns to life-threatening danger, as Eisenberg realizes he has fallen into the devious trap of a man with a very sick mind. Even at its most violent, “Goldberg and Eisenberg” maintains an ironic and absurdist humor. Carmi paces the film with the dangerous slink of a film noir and the bounce of a slapstic comedy, utilizing a soundtrack both haunting and hip. Leave it to a darkly comic Israeli thriller to re-introduce me to Herbie Hancock’s wonderful 1964 tune “Succotash.” Only at Fantastic Fest.
“Goldberg and Eisenberg” screens again at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.