The Memory Thief
In an age where Hitler has lost his edge to Middle Eastern bogeymen, and Banksy does Belsen, Gil Kofman’s directorial debut “The Memory Thief” calls into question artists who purport to expose, but inevitably exploit our numb prurience. Kofman cites Taxi Driver as an influence, but his character study in guileless, earnest obsession more closely evokes
fellow voyeurs Mark Lewis (Peeping Tom) and Frederick Clegg (The Collector), or even Eminem’s Stan.
Lukas watches life literally pass him by from his tollbooth annexe, snatching cursory human contact from the daily flow of drivers. A chance exchange with a concentration camp survivor provokes the righteous arrogance of youth to surface, and Lukas reinvents himself as an unorthodox Jew. He meticulously adopts the trappings of both obsession and Judaism, and with a yarmulka planted on his head, creates a psycho-collage on the wall of his apartment. Taking upon his shoulders a burden of plagiarised pain, he preaches in vain to the available masses of amused children and baffled peers.
The call and response of soundtrack and dialogue carries with a calculated elegance, counterpointed by actual survivor testimony. Ted Reichman’s ambient jazz soundtrack chides, warns and ridicules a protagonist who is more misery magpie than culture vulture.
Can one only exist after experiencing the extremes of human suffering, albeit vicariously? Lukas develops emotional stigmata which prove unbearable, and ultimately this witty and clever film suggests that we follow the traditional Jewish example of allowing mourning to reach an end after grieving wholeheartedly and profoundly.
Gil Kofman’s The Memory Thief screened at CFF2007
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