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Varda Ben Hur
The unexpected death of the family patriarch throws every member of the Ulman clan off course. Widow Dafna takes to bed for three months and when she finally returns to her job at the maternity hospital, she has little time for her children. Eldest son, Yair drops out of school and adopts a fatalist attitude, shutting out his siblings and girlfriend. His twin sister Maya, a talented musician, feels the most guilt and is forced to act as a family caregiver at the expense of career opportunities. Bullied at school, younger son Ido responds by obsessively filming himself with a video camera and attempting dangerous feats. The baby sister, Bar, is woefully neglected. Preoccupied with their own misery, the family is barely a family anymore. When another tragedy strikes, will they be able to support one another? Written by
Sujit R. Varma
A film full of heart - touching performances all round. Kudo's to writer-director Nir Bergman for a poignant feature film.
I fell in love with the trailer every time I heard the singing, and smiled at the video recording segment where Dafna was told not to say she's 43 with 4 kids but say 39, and ended up saying she has 39 kids. I was most eager when I finally get to see "Broken Wings." It was a filmic experience full of human, family emotions - those ever anguish-ridden teen growing pains (conflicts and raptures) - I was quite pleased, tear-jerker and all.
Broken Wings, aka K'Nafayim Shvurot (2002), a film from Israel in Hebrew with subtitles, is the debut feature of writer-director Nir Bergman. It may seem like yet another movie about teens, mother and kids in a struggling household - somehow there's a different tone and humanity level that's most warm and welcoming in feeling. Good story, thoughtful plot with trying crisis, and heartfelt performances all round. And the music - especially the song Maya sings, the lyrics and the guitar rhythm I really felt akin to.
It's a close-knit family - it shows: the dialog between mother and daughter, the interactions among teen sister and brother, elder brother and youngest sister, brother to brother, mother to sons - there's a lot going on and not without sprinkles of humor (and playfulness) injected in between. It's a poignant script Bergman delivered. And what a cast - each of the family members was portrayed with such nuance. Orli Zilverschatz-Banay is Dafna the mother, a central tour de force. Equally matched is the strong performance by Maya Maron as the daughter, whose sadness and bottled-up self-blame became a huge chip on her shoulder - struggling with her musical talent (composing and singing) and trying to be vulnerably strong ('I can take care of myself' persona) as a responsible daughter/sister/student/band member - life without Dad is so tough, or is it? Mother doesn't care, doesn't have time to love me, is it so? Ido, the younger son, reminds me of Edward Yang's "Yi Yi" - also a young boy on his own while the grown-ups and siblings exist in a different world. Daniel Magon plays Ido and Eliana Magon as the little sister Bahr - the pair had a street crossing scene with just as much tension felt watching their performances together. Nitai Gvirtz portrayed teen brother Yair, who's a character unto himself. Vladimir Friedman is Dr. Valentin, in the tension relieving role of Dafna's colleague, provided breather and smiles to the audience as well as the strung-out working mother of four.
Nir Bergman took the time to show us the different character developments - not shying away from confronting situations or gutsy parental-teenage tensions. "Broken Wings" depicts how a family unit copes with grief and how crisis unites, coming through with strength and renewed understanding. It's a worthy family drama. We're fortunate to have effective subtitles by Suzy de Lowe. Bravo to Sony Pictures Classics for the steady support in distributing gems of small independent foreign films.
An observation: the cause of death was given in a low key manner - nothing political about it as it seems to be a possible natural happening. Hence the central energy is more focused on the mother and daughter relationship - such wisdom in plot progression choices. If you're interested in a film that has a bit more political tone, try the Palestinian film by writer-director Elia Suleiman, "Divine Intervention" (2002) aka Yadon Ilaheyya, in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles - it's quietly political, pathos with poetic tenderness.
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