What Is Natalie Portman's Directorial Debut About?

By Kaitlin Reilly

The new movie starring Oscar winner Natalie Portman is also one that is a major turning point for this actress' career. A Tale Of Love And Darkness marks Portman's directorial debut, and it's an intriguing move for a star famous for her acting chops. The film, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2015, is heading to theaters in the United States on Aug. 19, and a new trailer for the film was released online featuring Portman in the lead role. Given Portman's decision to both star in and direct this feature, it's clearly a film that means quite a lot to her — so what is A Tale Of Love And Darkness about? You can brush up on the book before you see the movie.

A Tale Of Love And Darkness is based on the autobiographical novel by Amos Oz, which was first published in Hebrew in 2002. The film version is also told in Hebrew, which, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Portman, a Jewish woman born in Jerusalem, states was an important part of the Oz's work to remain true to the original source material. She states:

The language was really what [drew me], [Oz's] obsession with words and the way words are connected in Hebrew, which has this incredible poetry and magic... It's obviously almost impossible to translate, but there's just incredible beauty to that. [Jews are] a people built of words, people built of books, and it's quite beautiful to see that.

The film takes place in Jerusalem, and chronicles the author's childhood in the '40s during the early days of the State of Israel. Oz's journey to become a writer is particularly connected in his relationship with his mother, Fania, played by Portman. According to Vulture, Fania is mentally ill, and, from the trailer, seems to be sinking deeper and deeper into a depression.

Portman, who also wrote the film, told The Hollywood Reporter that she adapted Oz's novel with advice from Oz himself, who told her "The book exists. Don’t make a film of the book, go make your own piece." Though the film seems true to the original text, it seems clear that Portman's vision will be at least slightly different from the way Oz penned his novel — so watching the film might be the only way to really see the first-time director's vision.

Image: Movieclips Trailers/YouTube