HBO’s ‘Oslo’ Is a Mixed Bag
HBO Films deserves credit for tackling the difficult task of the behind the scenes negotiations of the Oslo Accords. For starters, one can’t expect a film to match the drama that the Off-Broadway play had (the film is an adaptation of that production).
The film is driven by the fine acting of Doval’e Glickman (who famously plays Shulem in Shtisel), who brings comedy to the part of professor Yair Hirschfeld. Meanwhile, Salim Dau is sensational as Palestinian Abu Ala, who shows his fury and desire not to be taken advantage of.
Ruth Wilson (who you may recognize from Showtime’s The Affair) plays Mona, but doesn’t get enough screen-time to spice things up; but then again, her character is not a major player. She and her husband’s character vow not to get involved politically, but rather to give the different parties food and shelter. Andrew Scott plays Terje Rød-Larsen, and he is all too confident that a deal will be reached.
Because we know that peace eventually will arrive, the actors need to amp up the conflict. But other than Dau, and at times Glickman, we don’t see it enough. There are a few jokes that miss the mark, but one can imagine the nervous tensions in the room. One question is obvious: did the men in the room actually think they had a real chance to come up with something that would lead to a long-lasting peace?
Itzik Cohen (from Fauda) is always great to see, despite the ton of makeup required to play Israeli government official Yossi Beilin. And as Uri Savir, Jeff Wilbusch is cool to watch on screen, even though he comes off a bit like a rock star.
The violence that took place in Israel as the film was released only underscores the necessity for a real and lasting peace — though it doesn’t seem close. I would have liked the movie to underscore a need for a better world where children don’t have to worry that the price for living in the land they love could mean death.
Despite its flaws, it’s worth it to see the film just for the sheer insanity of the talks that led up to Oslo. Directed by Bartlett Sher, the film could have been more claustrophobic. We’d like to hear it and feel it like we were in the room.
Credit HBO Films for putting the gloves on and getting into the ring. It’s a good fight, and it’s worth taking a seat and watching the rounds. But it’s not a knockout.
The author is a writer based in New York.