Eytan Fox :: Israel, France :: 2007 :: 1h57
A Romeo and Julliet story set in a contemporary turbulent war-torn Israel. Noam returns to Tel Aviv from his tour of duty at an Israeli checkpoint, to meet up with his friends Lulu and Yali in the little bubble of their lives. His mild indifference to the harsh reality of his country’s predicament recedes even further into the background by his meeting of Ashraf. Their budding love story is none the less weighted down by the perpetual violence which ends up blowing up in their face.
At times the tale is as light as a television series, at times accurate and funny as a cinema masterpiece, and at times awkwardly messy in its construction. We can forgive some of the incredulous lightness as the movie is sufficiently strong elsewhere, but the last half hour submerges the audience in a rush to completion of themes which exceed the scope of the film, or should have received due attention. This last theme is that of the cycle of perpetual violence.
There are much better films about the spiral of violence, both set in Israel and elsewhere, but here it is seemly thrust into the story. As a backdrop to credible twenty-somethings trying to make something out of their lives, a little oblivious of the world around them, leaves enough impact promote a ‘peace’. But instead we get to know the charming and somewhat introverted character of Ashraf well enough to understand that his frustrations do not lead to the ending the director has in mind for him. An ending which is clearly supposed to bring home the message of the spiral of violence.
On leaving this impressive film, it is hard not to be overwhelmed by the depth of the troubles . The inconsistency of the script and a weak key turning point scene near the end do not ruin the film, but it does render it un-quotable as a cultural reference. A shame, but the director Fox is on the right track.