Directed by Benjamin Freidenberg
It's a neat trick when introducing an unreliable narrator to not reveal that he is a narrator at all. The 25-minute-short GUIDED TOUR, written and directed by Benjamin Freidenberg, starts out as an essay film, a thoughtful exploration of being a stranger in a strange land, of the anticipations tourists have when coming to Israel, of the ever-present history in Jerusalem, of the nature of observation and finally, of the personal life of the narrator. Who, as we will find out, is not only a fictional character but also a stranger in a strange land himself, the most perfect tourist in a way.
It will take long until we find out the reason behind his detachment from reality. First, we see him trying to connect with people on a date hotline. There, finally, he seems to find someone just as lost, as cryptic, as imaginative and as out-of-touch as himself. They talk all night, with the narrator answering some of the woman's questions cinematically, with images of suicides, or of strolls in the park. And for a while she even finds her way into his images, the way she describes herself with her black coat and her plastic bag containing all her history. But even there, when the narrator repeats his thought-images with devastating variations, we feel that this also is no escape for him. He was keen to interact, but he cannot connect in real life. The anonymity is too alluring. You get the feeling that the narrator opens his thoughts even for us only because he knows, that he will never meet us again, either.
In the end everything dissolves. Or rather, the narrator lets everything dissolve. His colleagues move on, his neighbours move out, he imagines their fates with the same abandon with which he speculated about their private lives. Worst of all, his father has died long ago. We find out that he's trying to keep himself from suicide by inventing someone else and have them disappear. Whether there actually ever was anyone in his life... who knows?
With extremely minimalist actors and exuberant and gorgeous images from DoP Ehud Hermony, arranged with a hypnotic rhythm by editor Ehud Alfassi and supported by a dreamlike score by Asher Goldschmidt, GUIDED TOUR gives you everything and nothing, hundreds of images but no guarantees, moments of beauty and perfection that are ironically broken into their darkest fragments – like the perfect high diving jump while standing on the sill of an open window. It will keep you guessing and it will stay with you for a long time.