Top positive review
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"Tel Aviv has such beautiful moments..."
on 25 February 2008
Eytan Fox (Yossi & Jagger, Walk on Water) has a tremendous talent for portraying conflicts - social, political, emotional - and in 'The Bubble' (in Hebrew, with English subtitles) he has again succeeding in translating this into a powerful, intelligent film.
The 'bubble' in question is ostensibly the youth scene of Tel Aviv - an oasis of hip, vibrant contemporaneity in a desert of regressive dogma. Focusing particularly on thirty-something Noam, and his two flatmates - Lulu ("the Israeli Carrie Bradshaw") and Yali (flamboyant, gay, café owner) - the younger generation are portrayed as desperately emulating Western 'culture' - iPods, drugs, raves, Pop Idol, and fashion - as a reaction to the violence of their parents' legacy. For Western viewers used only to seeing the media portrayal of Middle-East one-dimensional strife from the comfort of their living rooms, this film will certainly prove to be an eye-opener.
Noam, who works in a record store, also serves as a reserve Israeli soldier, and it is while performing this latter duty at an Israeli checkpoint that he meets a Palestinian of similar age, Ashraf. The two men click instantly via time-honoured, unspoken eye contact and quickly form a relationship. Ahraf does not have a permit, and consequently Noam and his two flatmates disguise him as an Israeli and introduce him to their cosmopolitan world in Tel Aviv: café life, gay bars, moody piano clubs, theatre and music. Ashraf is enchanted by the carefree, (relatively) sexually-open lifestyle - so very different to the stark tradition of his Palestinian family-life. However, upon a visit back to this home town to attend his sister's wedding, Ashraf gets caught up in the enraged vengeance schemes of his militant brother-in-law, a local Hamas leader.
The film (two hours) has many more detailed sub-plots, which form a tight, inextricable web of actions and consequences. If anything, this factor is actually the only notable weakness of 'The Bubble': some of these plot lines appear too contrived, and some suspension of disbelief is necessary - particularly pertaining to the awkward and implausible ending. Nevertheless, this is a minor drawback in an otherwise excellent film.
The tremendous melting-pot of humour, tragedy and social commentary will undoubtedly work to push many emotional buttons. The vast range of contrasts that the film presents (Jew v. Arab, contemporary v traditional, pragmatism v. idealism, gay v. straight, hatred v. optimism, passion v. lust, family v. friends) is breathtaking in itself, and ensures that 'The Bubble' will linger in your mind for a long time. Superbly talented actors, and a beautifully-poignant soundtrack, underscore the polished nature of the film. Highly recommended.