Well Received 2017 Israeli Film ‘Longing’ Lost In Translation With Richard Gere Remake – Specialty Preview

It’s a big weekend for critically acclaimed indies in limited release as well as a handful of moderate openings, including Richard Gere’s latest film Longing. The provenance of that is unusual as the film from Lionsgate/Grindstone is a Canada-set remake of a 2017 Israeli drama. The original was quite well received, but the film opening this weekend has been thoroughly skewered by critics.

After winning screenplay and audience awards in Israel, the original film premiered in Venice, taking the BNL People’s Choice Award, then played Toronto.

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Both versions are written and directed by Savi Gabizon (Nina’s Tragedies, Lovesick On Nana Street). Characters and story are identical: a successful single American businessman (Gere) meets up with a 20-year-old old flame (Suzanne Clément) and learns that he has a son, and, a beat later, that the young man has just died in a car accident. Trying to process that and find a connection, he visits his son’s home and school, meets his pot-selling friend, the girlfriend he may have abused, and the pretty high school teacher he was apparently stalking, defending his newfound son unconditionally to all.

In an interview with Deadline earlier this month, Gabizon said producer Alexander Vinnitski loved the original Longing and began to look for U.S. partners to make an American version, with the script ultimately reaching Gere, who was also drawn to it. He said he thinks the biggest shift was in the dialogue. The English was modulated to be “less direct” and “more subtle” than the Israeli version to reflect the different reality of how people speak. But it didn’t seem to translate. The film is at a 27% Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ score

Vinnitski noted to Deadline today that not all reviews are in and it’s early to predict what audiences will do.

Gabizon said the idea grew from his own experience as a father. “When my son was 11, he began to play football, and I was sitting in the bleachers, and each time that he would get the ball I noticed that my leg moved a little. And I think that in those few millimeters, this whole story began.

The film is playing in about 100 locations.

Other moderate releases: Blue Fox Entertainment opens live action family film School of Magical Animals 2 by Sven Unterwaldt with 315 runs Friday after early shows Thursday. The comedy-fantasy sequel to BFE’s 2023 family adventure finds students of the School of Magical Animals putting together a musical with the help of their magical animals. Written by Thorsten Näter, Sven Unterwaldt and Alexander Dydyna, based on the bestselling children and YA book series by Margit Auer. Original German, dubbed in English.

The first film took in about $300k domestic vs $21.7 million international. The sequel was the most successful film at the German box office in 2022.

Sony Pictures Classics is releasing a 4k restoration of Tom Tykwer’s international box office success Run Lola Run starring Franka Potente and timed to the 25th anniversary of its original U.S. release. In 275 locations in the U.S. and Canada including the Angelika Film Center, AMC Empire and New Plaza Cinema in NYC and the Landmark Nuart in LA. In the 1998 German experimental thriller, flame-haired Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks to save her boyfriend’s life. The multiple award winner premiered at Venice, took the Sundance Audience Award and was Germany’s Oscar entry.

Limited releases: A24 presents Daina O. Pusić’s fantasy drama and directorial debut Tuesday at two NYC locations (Angelika and AMC Lincoln Square). Q&As with stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Lola Petticrew, and Pusić are sold out this weekend. The adult fairy tale debuted at Telluride to rave reviews, Deadline’s here, and is sitting on a 100% Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ score. This is Louis-Dreyfus’s second dramatic role with A24 after You Hurt My Feelings last year and, as did that film, it’s seeing the audience tracking older than the typical A24 core fan base, meaning it could see a wider audience this weekend.

Utopia opens Rachel Sennott-starring I Used To Be Funny by Ally Pankiw. Sennott, who stars in comedies Bottoms and Shiva Baby takes a darker turn here as Sam, a stand-up comedian in Toronto struggling with depression and her career after a young girl she use to nanny for goes missing. (Utopia also distributed Rachel Seligman’s Shiva Baby.) I Used To Be Funny premiered at SXSW last year and hits the distributor’s signature young audiences. Utopia is opening the film at the Quad in New York and in London this weekend, going nationwide in US/UK next week as it continues to expand its business across the pond.

Kino Lorber opens Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s Banel & Adama, which was the only debut feature in last year’s Cannes competition – see Deadline review — and only the second film by a Black woman to compete for the Palme d’Or, following the director’s French-Senegalese compatriot Mati Diop’s Atlantics in 2019. Debuts at Film Forum in NYC, expanding to Los Angeles and other markets in the coming weeks. Stars Khady Mane and Mamadou Diallo as a young couple in a remote village in northern Senegal. Duty dictates that Adama must soon accept the role of chief, but the two lovers have other plans.

French-Moroccan director Sofia Alaoui’s sci-fi thriller Animalia from Dark Star Pictures opens at Cinema Village in NYC, adds the Lumiere in LA next. It stars Oumaima Barid as Itto, a young woman from a modest rural background slowly adapting to the Moroccan privileged codes of her husband’s family when supernatural events thrust the country in a state of emergency. Premiered at Sundance and is sitting at 100% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes. This is Alaoui’s feature debut. She won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for her 2020vsupernatural short So What If The Goats Die.

Strand Releasing presents Emily Atef’s Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything. The Berlin-premiering film, see Deadline review, is based on the novel by Daniela Krien about an 18-year old woman coming of age in 1990 Germany, mixing sex and politics just after reunification. Maria (Marlene Burow), has moved away from her divorced mother to spend time with her boyfriend Johannes (Cedric Eich) on his parents’ farm in the former East Germany and starts torrid affair with their neighbor. Opens at the Laemmle Royal in LA, Roxy Cinema in NY, and Gene Siskel in Chicago.

Factory 25 presents Kit Zauhar’s (Actual People) sophomore feature This Closeness at the IFC Center. The erotic cringe comedy stars Zane Pais (Margot At The Wedding) and Ian Edlund with Kit Zauhar, actress and singer Jessie Pinnick (Princess Cyd) and multimedia artist Kate Williams. Debuted at SXSW last year. Tensions rise inside a Philadelphia apartment booked by a young couple for their high school reunion weekend as they clash with the awkward loner who lives there.

Cottontail from Level 33, by Patrick Dickinson, debuts in about three dozen theaters nationwide. A widower from Japan (Lily Franky) travels with his estranged son (Ryô Nishikido) to England to fulfill his late wife’s dying wish. With Ciarán Hinds. Premiered at the Rome Film Festival last year, winning Dickerson the BNL BNP Paribas Best First Feature Award.

Picturehouse will be playing doc Frank Miller: American Genius on Monday at 92 Cinemark theaters nationwide. A special introduction with Frank Miller and Rosario Dawson will take place at the Playa Vista location and be broadcast to all the others. Auds at each theater will get a special collectible gift. The film by Silenn Thomas explores the near half-century career of the legendary comic book artist and writer. Made for his fans following a near death experience, the documentary delves into Miller’s radical and defining influence on art, storytelling and culture from small town beginnings in Vermont.

Screened at the Angelika last night with an introduction by Frank Miller and Neil Gaiman.

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