Loneliness, a soul-crushing phenomenon, is the theme that drives Significant Other, an Israeli TV series now available on the ChaiFlicks streaming platform.
Created by Dana Modan and Assi Cohen, and directed by Ram Nehari, this comedic-infused drama revolves around an unmarried middle-aged woman (Modan) and a newly divorced man (Cohen) in Tel Aviv who yearn for companionship and love. Neither of them are identified by name, giving it a universal appeal.
As it begins, a suicidal Cohen is popping pills in his bathroom, hoping to end his life. As he lies in bed waiting for death, he hears an insistent knocking on his apartment door. His next door neighbor, Modan, appears to have had a heart attack and needs some help and reassuring words.
He reluctantly lets her in, and within minutes an ambulance arrives. As she is being carried away, he hurries down the stairs with her purse, but trips and bangs his head against a wall. He, too, is rushed to hospital.
They meet again shortly afterward and he asks her to be his “significant other” so that he can be discharged.
In the second episode, she receives medical advice from an sympathetic cardiologist, who recommends sex during her convalescence. In the meantime, he tries to reconnect with his wife, a hardboiled real estate agent whose cell phone never stops ringing. Much to his disappointment, she is not interested in a reconciliation.
Being lonely, he shows up at Modan’s flat with a bunch of snacks. “You’re pretty,” he says before kissing her. They make out, but she hesitates before giving in. He then launches into a tirade about his wife.
Modan and Cohen are perfect in their respective roles. Both look very ordinary and worn out and exude world-weary mannerisms.
In another episode, Modan meets an old flame, a man in his sixties, but their platonic date ends on an unsatisfactory note. She meets Cohen again and they go out for a restaurant meal. But in an unmistakable sign of their shallow relationship, they split the bill and do not spend the night together.
A viewer is given the impression that neither of them is gainfully employed, but in the fifth episode, Cohen appears as a salesman in his father’s furniture store. Modan’s employment history remains murky.
Cohen, in a fit of desperation, barges into his ex-wife’s home and practically begs to be reunited with her and their two children. She threatens to call the police if he disturbs her again.
Modan, in the meantime, hooks up with a boyfriend from the past who confesses he once wanted her dead.
Conversing with Cohen, she admits she had a five-year affair with a married man. They have sex, but it is cold and mechanical, devoid of even a smidgen of passion. Without exchanging a single word with Modan, he turns on the television and then proceeds to clean the air conditioner filter.
It’s clear that their relationship is nothing more than transactional and lacks the spark of a real romance. Modan and Cohen, in minimalistic and nuanced performances, convey these feelings in an empathetic series that is bound to draw in viewers.