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film review

Natalie Portman isn't the easiest actor to pin down. Sure, she attempts the typical balance of awards fare (Black Swan) and blockbuster (the Thor movies). But she also possesses a taste for the absurd – how else to explain her work in Hesher and Your Highness? Perhaps, though, Portman was just biding her time until she could finally develop what has been her years-long passion project: an adaptation of Amos Oz's memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness. The Israeli author's melancholy work might on the surface be an odd choice for Portman, but as writer, director and star, she takes to it with a fierce sense of devotion and even protection, creating a Hebrew-language drama about the tight, complex bond between a mother (Portman) and her son (Amir Tessler). Along the way, Portman also paints a portrait of the Jewish state's fraught history, all with the confident authority of a filmmaker who is years beyond her debut.