One can’t accuse director Yair Hochner of not giving his target audiences what we want: in the opening fifteen minutes of the Israeli filmmaker’s ensemble dramedy of hook-ups and hang-ups among a small group of gay men in Tel Aviv, he fills the screen with all manner of groping titillation. As one eye-catcher (Ofer Regirer) plows through a succession of one-night-stands, Hochner dissects the screen into boxes, temporally overlapping one another, allowing for a flurry of casual indulgence; there’s no music to accompany this man’s seemingly endless dalliances, just heavy breathing and the occasional clipped conversation.
We can tell time is moving quickly, as in between the trysts, our golden boy is glimpsed primping: some naked sit-ups here, some trimmed pubes there, shower after shower. The opening of Antarctica is effective not only for its thrusting the viewer into an admittedly hot but disorientingly impersonal landscape of anonymity but also for its surprising misdirect: this lothario, named Boaz, turns out to be, at best, a minor character in Hochner’s tapestry. It’s the five hook-ups, seen largely in long shots or shadowy hallways, in various states of obscuring undress, that the filmmaker is most interested in.
Thankfully, despite early intimations to the opposite, Hochner’s film is not a tract detailing the horrors of casual sex: indeed there’s a laidback sexual permissiveness that gives “Antarctica” its drive and likeability. Click here to read the rest of Michael Koresky’s review of Antarctica.