Life and cinema, like two inseparable sides of the same record. Declaration of love and tribute to his missing sister, Ronit Elkabetz, who succumbed to cancer in 2016, at the age of 51, Cahiers noirs, directed by his younger brother Shlomi Elkabetz, deploys two feature films, Cahiers noirs . Viviane and Black Notebooks. Ronit. Two sections combining family archives and film clips, in which Ronit Elkabetz appears as a free and joyful woman, far from the icon immortalized in glamorous poses, brown hair and magnetic gaze.
The two parts are unequal, Cahiers noirs. Viviane proves to be more captivating in its form, showing cinema in the making, while Cahiers noirs. Ronit finds himself too emotionally charged by death as a certain outcome, towering over the film.
Coming from a family of Moroccan origin, figures of new Israeli cinema, Shlomi Elkabetz, born in Israel in 1972, and Ronit Elkabetz (1964-2016) co-directed a trilogy inspired by the life of their mother, embodied in the screen Ronit: Taking a Wife (2004) tells the story of Viviane, in Haifa, in 1979, who seeks to separate from her husband (Simon Abkarian), versed in the religious tradition, while her brothers do everything to ‘she stays by her husband’s side; The Seven Days (2008) is the camera of an Israeli family in mourning, the day after the burial of one of their own, where drama and intimate conflicts explode; finally, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (2014) is the clinical account of a trial in which a woman demands a divorce and the right to be heard by the judges, who seem to have no need to hear her point of view. seen.
Intrinsically linked to the life of their mother, these three films earned the Ronit and Shlomi duo some text explanations with their parents. The paradox being that the father, Eli Elkabetz, had not ceased himself, in his childhood, to make the actor within his own family, parents and children distributing the roles. It is undoubtedly him who transmitted the taste of the cinema to his two children, we learn in these Black Notebooks.
A born filmmaker, Shlomi Elkabetz had hundreds of hours of family archives at her disposal, mum and dad arguing in the kitchen, doings and gestures of her mother, Miriam Elkabetz, a hairdresser by profession, prevented from living her life, but looking good on the outside. Ronit became her on-screen mother’s voice.
The first part, Cahiers noirs. Viviane is a skilful montage of this real life reinjected into fiction, down to the gesture. The film unfolds like a narrative ribbon, gluing a family archive captured in the kitchen to the same scene shot, years later, in the studio. Here we are in the position of privileged spectators, as guests in the family camera, then discovering its staging in films selected at festivals (Venice Film Festival, Cannes, etc.).
The film takes a behind-the-scenes look at these critically acclaimed works. One scene shows Ronit Elkabetz at the dinner table in her brother’s Paris apartment, listening to a rave show about their film on the radio. Paris then rhymes with paradise, freedom, festive outings…
Then Ronit married in 2010 with an architect, herself surprised by her decision, becoming the mother of twins. She then falls ill, painfully continuing the filming of the third part of the trilogy. The marked face of her character, despairing of being able to free herself, one day, from the yoke of her husband, is also that of an actress at the end of her tether, Shlomi whispering the text word for word to her. Black notebooks. Ronit also recounts an unfailing love, a brotherly “chabadabada” offering the viewer no choice but to be overwhelmed with emotion.