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4.5 out of 5 stars21
4.5 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 15 October 2008
...and the title says it all. Although Israel and Palestine are next door (or in the same place), they might as well be on different planets. The lifestyles and treatments of each community are so beautifully and accurately depicted. The lead characters are great - as, indeed, is the whole cast, who make the whole film utterly watchable and believable- you really get drawn into this film! Treat yourselves- it's a great film.
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I am a big fan of World Cinema and I dont mean the 'executive relief' type, so i was very keen to see this Israeli take on an inter faith gay relationship. It was ambitiuos to take on a subject such as a gay Jew having a relationship with a gay Palestinian and in many ways this is quite implausible though not impossible. It is handled reasonably well and in an interesting way. Relationships are examined and developed of all the main chracters and it deals with the isues that arise with a fair degree of warmth. However the ending took that away at a stroke. That being said it was still far better than your typical Holly/Bolly-wood ending where there is a reinforcing marriage with the implications of '..and they all lived happily ever after'.
In many ways the ending is probably more realistic in light of the entrenched intransigence that sadly exists in that part of the World. Definitely worth seeing and also definitely worth supporting Israeli cinmea.
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on 23 April 2011
This film succeeds in showing the Bubble, the world of the Westerners living in Tel Aviv, with all the cultural and political aspirations of Europeans and a longing to turn away from armies, occupation forces, social tension. But even in Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean coast their leafletting is not allowed to proceed uninterrupted - real people who have experienced real horrors try to bring them back to earth. Our two heroes - both very handsome and subtly acted - meet first at a checkpoint where one is doing his Israeli reservist military duty, the other (Ashraf) is a Palestinian passing through. They witness a human tragedy and Ashraf observes the grief this causes his counterpart. Later Ashraf comes into the Bubble by adopting a Jewish covername and identity. The tense nature of society is revealed by racist remarks in a shop and the acute observation by a Golani (i.e. someone Israeli with occupied Golan Heights connections) of Ashraf's shorts looking more Palestinian than Israeli. Ashraf suffers blackmail back in Nablus when his lover foolishly visits him whilst pretending to be a journalist. How things play out has the quality of a Greek tragedy. Is it realistic - yes, in its portrayal of a tense society, and of the respective lives of Israelis and Palestinians; possibly the plot constructs require some suspension of disbelief. It also shows different kinds of gay and other relationships, some involving power, some involving mutuality. Overall I think this is a masterpiece - a definite buy
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on 17 February 2009
The Bubble is one of the best gay interest film I've EVER seen, and I own quite a few. This is in the league of Summerstorm, Shelter, Latter Days and the like, but somehow more touching.
In Israel, they say, the true taboo, isn't love between men, but love between Jew and Muslim.
The Bubble is basically a realistic, sometimes gritty but always beautiful, depiction of the love story between Noam (Israeli) and Ashraf (Palestinian).
Without giving too much of the plot away, I will say that The Bubble is a haunting tribute to Tel Aviv.... it will make you laugh, cry, and cringe in embarrassment at what human beings are capable of, but ultimately it also renewed my belief in true love.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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on 4 October 2008
Beautifully shot, this film has given me my first insight in to the lives of Palestinians and Israelis today. It serves as a reminder to us all that people are people, be they gay, straight, Israeli, Palestinian, Black, White... Forget Brokeback Mountain, this is a much better watch with considerably better dialogue and visuals. You won't be disappointed. (Note it's in Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles).
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on 26 March 2011
One of the films you will think about a lot after watching it. It has everything a good movie should consist of: plot, acting, pictures and music.
The story of love between those two guys shows us, people leaving in countries with stable internal situation, that being a gay is not always as easy as piece of cake.
After seeing so many bad gay-theme films, this one brought back hope. It is possible to make a movie about gays without drags, discos, drugs and bad acting.
Kudos for one of the most beautiful bed scene I have ever seen in a movie. Without being offensive or shallowing the story, director managed to show the feeling and chemistry between Noam and Ashraf.

Worth to watch.
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on 14 December 2012
A sometimes moving neatly shot love story between men and women, men and men, occasionally women and women etc.. However it's depiction of Palestine and Palestinians and ironically gay men too will raise questions for some.

It's ending is like those old 1950's films, where at the end the gays either committed suicide or were 'dead from the waist down'. Nice. Here only one gay man is left standing (literally). However despite this unintentional reference it's clear he could have made a great film about bohemian Tel-Aviv life - one that didn't need a Palestinian 'other'. The film references 'Sex in the City' and he achieves the feel of the series well in some places and that's where the film seems comfortable - celebrating Tel-Aviv and it's life and loves.

Originally he wanted to call the film 'Romeo and Julio', seeking to set a gay version of 'Romeo and Juliet'. Equating Shakespeare's local difficulty between two local families with a massive internationalised conflict would cause most directors difficulties. The obvious risk is trivialising both the gay characters and the Israel/Palestine conflict. Something that I'm not sure Etyan Fox avoids and yet you have to admire his courage as clearly people of all sexualities are involved and effected by the conflict and their stories need to be told.

Fox's intention is to undermine 'The Bubble' of Tel-Aviv's flimsiness by contrasting it with the 'reality' of life in Palestine. Yet unfortunately the scenes set in Nablus are inevitably more two dimensional than those in Tel-Aviv because he is depicting a Palestine of the Israeli imagination. This is the danger of someone, however well intentioned, from one side of a conflict speaking for the other. Eytan Fox the director clearly sympathises with his characters wish to bring peace. Had he collaborated with a Palestinian director he may have made a real step towards it.

So at the end I was left wondering what would this film look if Nablus were the main character not Tel Aviv? Or if the gay Palestinian were openly so? (There are gay Palestinians, the equating of Israel with gay liberation is another of the problematic sub-texts in the film). Fox's style maybe innocent but depicting the Israel/Palestinian conflict as a sideshow in a panegyric to Tel-Aviv won't be for everyone. Ultimately this is a film about Tel-Aviv for Tel-Aviv, and I'm sure that locally it speaks effectively. Outside of its 'Bubble'? Maybe not.
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on 19 October 2015
If you liked Yossi & Jagger and Yossi then you will like this. It is not your run of the mill love story. It's more 'love despite all'. The plot is outlined by others and they are pretty accurate. The cover does not do it justice as it gives the impression this is some sort of rom-com - which it very much isn't. It was released in 2006 but I doubt very much whether this film could be made today as so much violence and destruction has passed since then. The idea was used in the Israeli film 'Out in the Dark' which covers much the same ground but on a lower budget perhaps.
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on 15 February 2014
From the heartbreaking opener right thru to the harrowing closer, this film gives new meaning to "gay love story". Truly brilliant and devastatingly brutal in its refusal to have a traditional Hollywood ending. Emotionally shattering and draining. The acting here is first rate and you feel for the characters. All that having been typed I believe I saw the ending coming from the beginning, but then forgot all about it. One of the finest gay themed filmsi have seen in a good long while. I was moved. It's not all sad though. There's at least one EPIC gay sex scene.
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