Danae Elon has a remarkably relatable habit of both admitting her own failings and failing to admit them. P.S. Jerusalem, narrated intermittently by its director-cinematographer, is a fascinating, frustrating personal study of dysphoria and turmoil.
Jerusalem-born Elon, now in Brooklyn, is feeling displaced. So she moves her French partner, and their two young children, to her hometown. This entire premise, and much of the eventual document, is troublingly and profoundly selfish, but such is Elon’s frankness – both what is directly said, and what she can’t articulate about her needs – that you trust her throughout to make good.
The style is deceptively simple: Elon films everything. We are introduced to the story via a veneer of home-movie making, but as the film progresses we are enveloped in a distinguished rigorous style, a personal perspective that appears calm and passive but actually conceals a steely knack for observation. And yet again, it makes our subject impressively unlikeable: rarely seen, all we have for reference is her own mediation, making it much easier to side with her increasingly frustrated husband.
This is key to P.S. Jerusalem’s brilliance: Elon does not want to be the hero-protagonist, or even necessarily a relatable narrator. She struggles to articulate her desire to move everyone to Israel, and she refuses to stop filming and exposing every inch of her personal life. Her finest moments of reflection are the darkest: admitting an “addiction” to filming dangerous situations, confessing feeling “absolved” of things (political, and also personal) when she films them.
P.S. Jerusalem’s primary value is as a psychological portrait of dysphoria: the troubles experienced by Elon and her family become a complex reflection of all the absurdity inherent in not only the Israel-Palestine situation, but all such territorial, racialised conflicts. It is maddening, but occasionally moving and often striking.
DIRECTOR: Danae Elon
SYNOPSIS: Israeli-American documentarian Danae Elon relocates her family from Brooklyn to Jerusalem, and records their three-year struggle to adapt.