Kyle (Thomas Dekker – Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) and Eva (Hayley Bennett – Hardcore Henry) are American art students who’ve headed to Tel Aviv, with both of them hoping it will bring a new aspect to their art. Eva begins to explore the world of Israeli literature, while Kyle starts to shoot an experimental movie. Then they meet local man, Avi (Bob Morley – The 100), who Kyle becomes fascinated with and decides to make the centre of his movie.
The relationship between Kyle and Eva slowly begins to disintegrate, as she tries to break through his seeming disinterest in her, and she starts to see new possibilities. She also starts to realise that there is more than just friendship between Avi and Kyle, and that her boyfriend is building perhaps subconscious (or perhaps not) feelings for the young man. Neither seems to know what to do about it, and it isn’t clear whether Kyle even really cares, or indeed whether Avi has motivations beyond friendship for either of them.
Simmering behind this is the tense political atmosphere between Israelis and Palestinians, and the bombings and attacks that form a backdrop, which initially Kyle seems rather excited about.
Lost In While City slots into a long tradition of stories about people heading off to other countries to find themselves, but ending up getting lost in ways they’d never expected. It is, however, likely to be a bit of a love it or loath it film. Kyle and Eva are a rather privileged, self-absorbed duo, and while the movie does sometimes try to address their pretensions and solipsistic existence – not least with Kyle’s rather unfeeling excitement about being in a place where bombings and conflict are a reality, compared with Avi’s grounded, more human attitude – they are often rather difficult to either like or empathise with.
This is particularly difficult early on, as Kyle largely comes across as a bit of a manipulative asshole. While there is logic to it, as it sets up his later issues as well as constantly making you wonder quite how self-aware he is of what he’s doing in his interactions with both Eva and Avi, it also makes it difficult to care. Things do improve as it goes along, but there’s still the feeling that the central couple can’t really see past the end of their own noses. Part of the problem is that the movie sometimes doesn’t seem certain whether it’s outside this world observing, or whether it wants to be slightly hipster and art student-y itself, in a slightly navel-gazing way.
Thankfully though, there’s a real charm to Avi that helps ground the film and ensures it doesn’t float too far away into the realm of artistic self-regard. Helped by an open and innocent performance by Bob Morely, Avi is the film’s real world anchor, even if at times he comes a little close to becoming a rather unexpected noble savage archetype.
The film’s handling of the characters’ sexuality is interesting, with an open attitude to the possibilities of sexual attraction, while coming to no definitive conclusions about how that might express itself. At times it’s almost challenging the audience’s perceptions of this front, inviting their assumptions that Kyle is a closet case and that his attitude to Eva is due to the fact he’s really gay, but then subverting it to be something more amorphous.
It’s a very modern take on things, and certainly adds an extra layer of interest, particularly in the way it allows the audience to wonder what’s going on in the character’s head. For example, there’s one scene towards the end where the sexual tensions between Kyle and Avi ramps up, which could be read or completely manipulative on Kyle’s part, or which could purely have been a less conscious result of a night out.
Overall Verdict: Lost In While City is an interesting film, and it has moments where it hints that there are ideas and thoughts at play that could have made this truly exceptional. However, an occasional tendency to be as self-regarding as its main characters, and a difficulty introducing understanding and empathy early on result in a film that’s not quite what it might have been.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac
Lost In White City is available to stream exclusively at FlixFling.com, beginning March 15