A ragged, largely rote coming-of-age story, Lynn Roth’s “The Little Traitor,” (Ha’boged Hakatan) is based on Amos Oz’s novel, “Panther in the Basement,” which I hope has more literary nuance. Proffy Liebowitz (Ido Port) is a smart, aggravating boy in 1947 Palestine who, with his friends, try to come up with ways to taunt or terrorize their British occupiers. To search for parallels with contemporary events would be wasted effort: the meat of “Traitor” is the unlikely friendship between Proffy and Sgt. Dunlop, an English soldier who catches him out after curfew, the always-watchable Alfred Molina. Lonely boy meets father figure, and you can guess the rest, including the necessity of their friendship remaining clandestine so as not to suffer certain punishment. Strong theme, uncertain execution: the growth of Proffy and Dunlop’s friendship and their increasing affection tick-tocks with predictable satisfactions. Just the kind of cross-cultural coming-to-understanding tale that a young boy would grow up to write books about… Yes. The Jerusalem locations are evocative. With Rami Hueberger, Gilya Stern, Theodore Bikel. In Hebrew and English. 89m. (Ray Pride)
“The Little Traitor” opens Friday at Landmark Renaissance.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.