The Bubble


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.

Official Website


Une jeunesse comme aucune autre

Karov la bayit (Close to Home)

Dalia Hager, Vidi Bilu :: Israel :: 2006 :: 1h30

Two girls, Smadar and Mirit, are doing their compulsory military service in Jerusalem. One of them is a rebellious, assertive character, the other a beautiful and enticing introvert. They are sent on patrol together through the streets, taking down ID details of Arabs, a menial and unappealing task. Hesitantly they comply with their mission, trying to balance the demands of the service with their personal lives.

A convincing and captivating portrait of contemporary Israeli society, showing the uncomfortable role of the military in daily life. The soldiers are so young that they can barely deal with the reality around them. It is not as much their fragility -as women- which weakens them, but rather their inexperience. A desperation sets in with the realisation that the society needs them but that they are not really the ones who can do it. The general public is mostly placid about the harassing they’re ordered to do, but towards the end the strain snaps.

The huge differences in character and social background separate the two girls, with their roles well reflected in their duties. The challenges of friendship and love interact through their tour, adding an understanding to their reactions to the world around them.

Brilliantly set up and filmed up close to make us a part of their compulsory rite of passage. The movie is captivating from beginning to end. Do not hesitate to go and watch them in action. As a side note, the French release title (‘A youth unlike any other’), does not do the film justice. The characters are not that exceptional and their obligatory tour is shared by all Israeli youths, not just them. The title ‘Close to Home’ has a lot more impact by adding the realisation that they grow up living with a permanent bomb treat due to political instability. That it is not just a conflict on TV but one surrounding the place they, like everyone else there, calls home.