Release Date: September 9th, 2005 (NYC) by Film Movement.
The Cast: Michaela Eshet, Hani Furstenberg, Moshe Igvy, Maya Maron, Assi Dayan
Directed by Joseph Cedar.
In Hebrew with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: In 1981, an Israeli family struggles to adjust to their home in a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This is a very character-driven drama that is always engaging to watch. When the Israeli family moves to the new settlement, there are certain traditional customs that they are forced to abide by. For example, it is unacceptable that Rachel (Eshet), the widowed mother, should remain without a husband. She does meet Yossi (Igvy), a lonely middle-aged man, who happens to be a virgin--but she does not make fun of him nor is it used in a comical way like it is in The 40 Year-Old Virgin. There are a few comical moments, though, like when she and Yossi end up touring the area on a bus and are forced to head back because of flatulent cows. The drama gets very heavy when Tami (Furstenberg), Rachel's 15 year-old daughter, is molested by a group of older boys at a campsite. The dilemma is very clear: either go the police which would lead people to believe that Tami is like a slut, or not tell anyone and let the boys get a way with it. Once Tami locks herself in her room without speaking to anyone, the plot seems slightly like a soap opera, but with convincing performances from everyone along with a well-written script, realism is always maintained. Fortunately, the plot is never contrived or gimmicky despite how simple and predictable it is.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: This film tackles the issues of racism and discrimination without going too far or becoming uncomfortable. These issues are also very timely. It is not easy to raise two teenage girls, especially in a settlement where there is plenty of standards and discrimination. It is very inspiring to watch Rachel do everything in her power to keep her family together. Her emotional strength is very uplifting, especially in the way she deals with all the racial tensions. The ending is very satisfying and, above all, believable.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Predictable plot.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
THE BOTTOM LINE: A very warm and character-driven film that tackles the very timely, provocative subject of racial discrimination in a surprisingly gentle way.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "C" Menu