Although it’s nice to be happy and content with where you are in life, we sometimes encounter people and situations that cause us to rethink everything we thought we knew about ourselves and those around us. Sometimes, the grass looks greener on the other side and we must make the decision to remain where we are or to hop the fence.
Karaoke follows a seemingly happy and content older couple who begin to question their personal satisfaction after a rich and eccentric neighbor moves into the penthouse of their apartment building. Meir (Sasson Gabay) and Tova (Rita Shukrun) are almost five decades into their happily-ever-after, have two adult children and an ideal existence. Sure, Tova and their daughters tease Meir about being uptight and lacking spontaneity, but he’s a family man who has worked hard to provide for his wife and children. A mishap in the parking garage pulls Meir, and ultimately Tova, into the orbit of the alluring and captivating, Itzik (Lior Ashkenazi).
Itzik is a rich, eternal bachelor who throws elaborate parties nightly, is always surrounded by the young and beautiful, and is seemingly the center of attention in any room he steps into. Although he’s the same age as Meir and Tova, his spirit is much younger and he possesses a freedom neither of the couple has experienced in a very long time. Although it would be easy to write him off as flitty and self-absorbed, he makes profound observations and stands up for those who could be easily overlooked. There’s a scene early in the film, after which Meir and Tova have just been introduced to Itzik, where he politely, but sternly request that Tova pause her rambling story about a dinner party so that he can hear Meir’s opinion. Itzik can sense that Meir is the more quiet and submissive partner, and makes it a point to encourage him to be more assertive.
We see here that Meir hasn’t been asked his opinion about anything in so long, that he has seemingly forgotten that he’s allowed to have a voice. From there, he develops a bond with Itzik that essentially replaces the closeness he should have with his wife. There were some points during the film were I questioned whether or not the two of them would become intimate, even though the movie does make it clear that Meir is a heterosexual man. Itzik comes along and seduces Meir mentally and emotionally, instead of sexually. Watching Meir become jealous as Itzik loses his interest and moves on to others is truly fascinating and tragic. He’s merely a man who wants to be seen and respected. Although Tova has her own solo encounters with Itzik, they never turn romantic as one might expect of this situation. She’s just quicker to realize that she has everything she needs at home.
The film is an excellent exploration of an older couple trying to find themselves after years of being together, only to discover that everything they need has always been there. The final dance sequence with Meir and Tova at the end of the film is a fulfilling and emotional conclusion. Gabay and Shukrun both do an excellent job of portraying the longing their characters have when the film begins, and the triumphant moment at the film’s conclusion when they realize they already have everything they could ever want or need.
Karaoke had its World Premiere in the International Narrative Competition section of the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.
Directors: Moshe Rosenthal
Cast: Sasson Gabay, Rita Shukrun, Lior Ashkenazi, Arie Tcherner, Kobi Farag, Alma Dishy, Timor Cohen, Keren Tzur, Talin Abu Hanna, Ofri Fox
an excellent exploration of an older couple trying to find themselves after years of being together
Writer. Video Essayist. Film/TV Critic. Pop Culture Enthusiast.
When he isn’t writing for Geek Vibes Nation or creating content for his YouTube channel, Tristian can be found typing away at the young adult novel he has been working on for three years.