The past never dies, always ready to burst out of our subconscious with all its granular details. Summer Vacation, a short Israeli film by Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon, expertly addresses this theme.
Currently being presented online by the Toronto Jewish Film Foundation, it is set on a quiet beach on the Mediterranean Sea as a young Israeli couple, Yuval and Michaela, and their two children, Gaya and Einav, enjoy a summer holiday far from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Playing around with his family, Yuval (Yiftach Klein) buries himself in sand up to his neck near the water’s edge. Suddenly overcome by panic, he fears he will be drowned by incoming waves.
In desperation, he asks his son and daughter to dig him out of his watery predicament. Unable to help him, they call out for help to two nearby strangers. Iftach (Oded Leopold) and his male friend, both tall and strong, rescue Yuval. Grateful for their assistance, Michaela (Hilla Vidor) invites them for a beach-side meal.
Yuval resents their company, especially after Iftach appears to be flirting with his wife. At the end of the meal, Iftach’s friend departs, leaving Iftach alone there with Yuval.
The following day, following a swim, Yuval encounters Iftach again and says, “Are you stalking me?”
At this point in the film, a viewer is still uncertain whether they are old friends who have accidentally bumped into each other, or total strangers who happen to have chosen the same beach resort to unwind.
As they talk, the uneasy truth emerges. They knew each other long ago, but parted ways, leaving a residue of mutual bitterness. Later that day, Yuval watches Iftach chatting with his son, a conversation that adds another layer of uneasiness to their already tense relations.
When they meet again, Yuval opens up, confessing he never stopped loving Iftach, who returns the compliment. Yuval, however, is still torn. He loves his wife and children and has no intention of altering his life or lifestyle. Nevertheless, he is still physically attracted to Iftach.
In an impulsive moment, Iftach threatens to tell Michaela about their former relationship, but draws back after Yuval intimidates Iftach.Their secret seems safe, but is a love triangle taking shape?
The film is both understated and bold, and the lead actors turn in plausible performances. The message that Granit and Maymon convey is that the past and the present can be one and the same and present a whole new set of problems.