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Past Life (2016)

Past Life tracks the daring late 1970s odyssey of two sisters - an introverted classical musician and a rambunctious scandal sheet journalist - as they unravel a shocking wartime mystery that has cast a dark shadow on their entire lives.



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Credited cast:
Nana Milch-Kotler
Joy Rieger ...
Sephi Milch
Doron Tavory ...
Baruch Milch
Lusia Milch
Tom Avni ...
Jeremy Kotler
Rafael Stachowiak ...
Thomas Zielinski
Uri Lotan
Katarzyna Gniewkowska ...
Agnieszka Zielinska
Manya Zonenshein
Orna Rotenberg ...
Rivka Hen
Lenny Cohen ...
Avi Kornick ...
Keren Tzur ...
Dr. Haber
Aryeh Cherner ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nitzan Rotschild ...
Young Baruch Milch


The year is 1977, and no female has ever been a renowned classical music composer. Sephi Milch, a very determined and talented young woman, aspires to a career as a classical composer, but she knows the odds are against her. In spite of this, she is dead set on changing the course of history and succeeding in the male-dominated classical music world. Her struggle with the burden of history is not only limited to her artistic life - as the daughter of troubled Holocaust survivors, she also has to deal with a sudden revelation from the past that threatens to tear her family apart. Nana Milch - Sephi's older sister and bitter rival, a scandal sheet journalist and an aspiring playwright - considers this startling revelation an opportunity to free herself from the stranglehold of her parents' past. Sephi is weary of her sister's tendency to look for trouble, but in this case she has no choice but to join Nana's quest for the truth. 1977 is the year Egyptian president Sadat decided to break...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis








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Release Date:

2 June 2017 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ha'khata'im  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Nelly Tagar actually did pee on her baby sister in real life when she was a little girl. She told the story to Avi Nesher, the director. He loved it so much he put it into the script See more »

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User Reviews

Uncharacteristically low on warmth and humor, but impressive
25 November 2016 | by (Israel) – See all my reviews

At one of the preview screenings, director Avi Nesher related that Graham Daniel, the revered sound mixer he'd been lucky to cajole into working on this film, compared him to Kubrick as a pain in the neck. Nesher is apparently a perfectionist on the Kubrick level and the results are not only on the soundtrack but also visible on screen in the lighting, the detail, and the recreation of period settings. After a run of four big successes since returning to Israel, it seems Nesher can manage to raise a bit of a budget. Apparently he even rented and repainted a bus just to insert a momentary tribute to one of his previous films (unless that bus was just a visual effect).

What those previous hits had that Past Life doesn't is a coating of warmth and humor. Past Life is based, apparently closely, on a true story about secrets from the Holocaust. It's been very successful in overseas showings, and it might be said cynically that world audiences love to see spiritually tortured Holocaust survivors, especially when the portrayal is spiced with intimations of personal guilt and, above all, an implication that the Arabs of Palestine are the victims of the victims. But although the warmth is missing and so is the humor (except in some wisecracks from one of the main characters, who is based on journalist Shosh Avigail), it's possible to like the film for the right reasons as well as for the wrong ones.

Nesher said that the film has an odd narrative structure because of its faithfulness to the real story. It does have an interestingly odd structure, as well as some nice feints in unpursued directions, a cliché or two, and an ending that may seem less definitive to the audience than it does to the characters. As in all Nesher's recent movies, the acting is first-rate. Nesher continues his practice of casting comedians in straight roles (this time it's Muli Shulman); he's said that whereas those trained as stage actors give top priority to serving the text, comedians understand the importance of keeping the audience's attention at every moment. I wonder whether the movie will be as popular in Israel as his previous few have been.

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