The Cutoff Man

Many films deal with real life, but it’s rare for a film to feel so utterly real. Gabi (the great Moshe Ivgy) is an unemployed family man who takes a job severing the water pipes of customers who don’t pay their bills. It’s demoralizing work. Old ladies plead with him, young punks threaten him, but his job allows him to pay for things like his beloved son’s goalie gloves. The Israeli landscapes of worn apartment blocks, sun-scorched fields and grassy medians strewn with litter are a fitting backdrop for Gabi’s descent into quiet anguish. The Cutoff Man deals with the stuff of broken dreams in a utterly truthful way. Director Idan Hubel unfolds this story patiently, capturing authentic moments of silence and lingering with Gabi as he breaks down in front of a vending machine while sending his gangly teenager off to the army. The film’s verisimilitude breaks only once, when Gabi visits a local bar to escape with Arak and card games and slips into a kind of trance, until his devoted wife Nava comes to break the spell. She lovingly guides him home, hand in hand. There is no redemption here, but there is the quiet suggestion that family makes life worth living.
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