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"Broken Wings" is a poignant, slice-of-life drama about an Israeli
family's coming to terms with the death of their father nine months
earlier. The widow, Dafna, is a 43 year-old mother of four who works
endless hours as a midwife at the local hospital, both to earn money to
support her family as well as to avoid having to face the reality of
the tragic loss she has suffered. For while she is a loving, devoted
mother, she seems unable to provide the guidance and solace her
children need in this time of incomprehensible grief and suffering.
Thus, the children are left to cope more or less on their own as best
they can - and this on top of all the problems young people face just
doing the ordinary, day-to-day business of growing up. Her oldest son,
Yair, has responded to his father's death by dropping out of high
school and adopting a fatalistic philosophy, declaring that life is
nothing more than a series of random events that mean nothing against
the backdrop of an immensely vast, impersonal universe. The oldest
daughter, 17 year-old Maya, has hopes of becoming a successful rock
musician, but finds herself having to carry the burden of raising the
two younger children while their absent mother spends most of her
waking hours at work. The two youngsters, Ido and Bahr, cope with the
loss of their father and the inadvertent neglect from their overworked
mother in various and heartbreaking ways. The narrative is paced in
such a way that we learn about the life of this family only through
bits and pieces of carefully revealed information, with each scene
exposing more and more about the people and their situation until
ultimately a full picture emerges. In fact, it is a good half hour at
least before we even know that the father is dead.
The movie takes a very low-keyed approach to its subject matter, showing, in an understated fashion, the devastating effect the death of a parent can have on a family unit. The film is filled with lovely little moments of humor, warmth and insight that draw us deeply into the drama. We see how each of the various characters responds to the situation and to each other, watching as the feelings of guilt, resentment and recrimination bubble to the surface. As a second crisis hits the family, a whole host of long-dormant feelings and emotions finally break out in open conflict. Yet, as with a wound that needs to be cauterized before it can heal, this second trauma proves to be the rupture the family needs to begin its process of recovery. The amazing thing is that writer/director Nir Bergman is able to do all this in an economical 82-minute running time. Yet, even with that limited length, the filmmaker captures the texture of the family members' daily lives through an impressive array of sharply drawn subsidiary characters who play an integral part in the central drama.
Bergman has also been blessed with first-rate actors in the primary roles. Orly Silbersatz Banai as Dafna, Maya Maron as Maya, and Nitai Gaviratz as Yair deliver, beautifully realistic, heartfelt performances. The other cast members are all excellent as well.
"Broken Wings" is a small, overlooked gem that gets to the heart of what it means to be a family. It would be a shame for anyone to miss it.
One of the best Israeli films ever. Israel had good actors, and good
drama but never before have I seen such a well developed script. I
guess the secret belongs to the fact that the movie started as a short
film when Nir Bergman studied cinema, and then he developed it to a
full length movie. Moreover, this movie is one of the representatives
of the new Israeli movie age, after understanding Israel cannot produce
big budget American style movies, and started producing small touching
The story in a nutshell is about a single mom with four kids, trying to overcome the loss of their father. The movie time quota is within one week, so everything happens very fast, and sometimes it feels like someone is hitting you with a hammer in the stomach. other times it feels like someone is squeezing you for tears. Generally speaking the movie sure is an emotional roller coaster.
The movie follows the story of the rebellious daughter who is torn between her will to be a singer and her family duties because her mom is working night shifts as a nurse. It also follows the enigmatic closed son who had to be the strong man of the family because of the death of the father, and the effect the death had on his personality, emotions, and his functioning in school. Last but not least is the small child who has some kind of an accident during the film, which makes everything move even faster and more emotional.
The actors (especially Maya Meron, but that's because I'm a fool for her) are doing a great acting job and are very moving and realistic.
All in all, this is a great movie, highly recommended.
There seems to be a whole genre of films recently ,the theme of which is young people's daunting search for purpose in life in a world where external sources of values are no longer accepted. I am thinking of "Garden State," "I Heart Huckabees," "Closer " etc. The consensus, so to speak, if these movies are to be taken as a mirror of reality, is that there is no purpose to be found, and the only grounds for relating to other human beings at all is sexual attraction, or its concomitant sexual competition. In fact, I watched this film and "Thirteen" together, and found them strangely parallel. I mention all this because Knafayim Shvurot is different from all the others in a small but fundamental respect: here the characters have not quite given up the search. Perhaps this reflects a difference between Israeli culture which, jaded though it is, is indisputably younger, and American culture which seems to be declining into both hedonism and vicious religiosity. I didn't realize it while I was watching, but was somehow not surprised to notice afterward that the "family" of characters is played by a real-life family. I couldn't help wondering how the experience affected them...
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
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.
"Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Take these broken wings and learn
to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise." -
The trauma that accompanies the sudden loss of a beloved family member is being repeated all over the Middle East today in both Israeli and Palestinian homes. Behind the headlines, however, is the human tragedy, the stories we never read about. This story is told metaphorically in Nir Bergman's brilliant first effort Broken Wings. It is not an overtly political film, but the implications are clear. Set in the Israeli port city of Haifa, it depicts the effect of the loss of the family's patriarch on each member of the Ulman family, perhaps suggesting the emotional state of Israel since the murder of Yitzhak Rabin. The 83-minute film won accolades at the Berlin International Film Festival and has been a huge critical and commercial success in Israel, winning nine Israeli Academy Awards in 2003.
Beautifully expressive Maya Maron in her first feature role is an Israeli teenage singer-songwriter (also named Maya) who dreams of becoming a rock star and wears wings when she sings in her local band. As the film opens, Maya is singing a song she wrote in memory of her father who died suddenly nine months ago, for reasons not disclosed until the end of the film. Her song is interrupted when her mother Dafna (stage actress Orly Zilberschatz-Banai), a nurse, phones and tells her that she has been called to work on the night shift at the local hospital and needs Maya home to take care of brother Ido (Daniel Magon) and sister Bahr (Eliana Magon). Maya emphatically refuses then relents but the tension between mother and daughter is palpable. Maya, who was with her father when he died, does not fully grasp the guilt behind her bottled-up rage and takes out her anger on her mother who is both irritating and sympathetic as she labors wearily to keep the family from a collision course.
We learn that each family member is suffering the father's loss in his or her own way. Dafna stayed in bed for three months leaving the children to do the parenting and the results are reflected in their erratic behavior. Six-year old Bahr wets her bed and Ido carries out a strange ritual of filming himself while jumping into an empty pool. The oldest brother Yair (Nitai Gaviratz), also a teenager, has been suspended from school and hands out leaflets on commuter trains dressed in a mouse costume while expressing a nihilistic philosophy to anyone who will listen. His inability to respond to the words father, fear, and anger during a word association test prompts his school counselor to deny him re-admittance until he receives treatment, but he does not help his cause when he tells the counselor "Your words are meaningless. This conversation does not exist and you don't exist."
Yair tells Maya that "things could be worse", and they do get worse before they get better. In fact, the catalyst for redemption comes in a life-threatening accident that allows the family to regroup, take responsibility for their lives, and begin the process of healing. Broken Wings sounds depressing but in the hands of the skillful direction of Mr. Bergman its sadness is balanced with humor and the strength and dignity of its characters. The film does not break any new ground but displays the kind of insight that allows us to learn something new about ourselves. Though rooted in reality, Broken Wings has a heart that leaps and a soul that soars and is a film that I truly loved.
More and more these days I come out of a film feeling cheated. I find that especially true of American films where technically everything is wonderful and yet there is an emotional laziness that makes me feel unfulfilled. The writer needed to write three more drafts and the director should have gone the extra mile with the actors but instead chose to focus on lens choices and fast slick cuts. Broken Wings is the antithesis of this phenomena. A wonderfully unpretentious, deeply personal and beautifully written piece that leaves you with the feeling that perhaps your life isn't so bad after all. The film follows the life of a mother and her four children desperately trying to cope with the emotional and financial aftermath of their father's death. The brilliance of the writing in my opinion lies in the ability of writer/director Nir Bergman to convey the devastating fatigue and hopelessness of poverty with a wonderful wit and humor. The camera serves the plot rather than the ego of the camera man. The entire cast delivers a remarkable performance that is understated and personal. Eliana Magon who plays the little girl, looks like she is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Run to see this movie.
This film was a surprise. Israel's film industry is doing just fine, and
judging by some of the latest movies that we have seen from that country,
they have a very promising future.
Director Nir Bergman knows a thing or two about how to reach an audience. The story that he presents here is one about the tremendous pain this family is going through after the beloved father dies in a freakish manner, leaving behind a wife and four children that without him are at the breaking point.
Dafna, the mother, is sleepwalking through life; she appears to be sleepy most of the time. Having to work odd hours, she is losing the grip of things at home. Maya, the oldest daughter, is the logical choice for Dafna to rely on, but this teen ager feels her life is being torn between the family loyalty and her own singing ambition. The older son, Yair, also is facing very hard times adapting to a life that is uncertain, at best. The other two children are just plain lost because everyone else is absorbed in his own conflict.
The acting is first rate. Dafna, played with conviction by Orly Silbersatz Banai, is excellent as the over burdened mother. Maya Maron is the rebellious Maya, basically the central role of the story. Miss Maron plays convincingly. The rest of the cast is very good.
We can expect other fine films from Mr. Bergman in the future, I'm sure.
"Broken Wings (Knafayim Shvurot)" is a frank, involving portrait of a family
coping with grief and stress.
Even more than such films as "Ordinary People," debut writer/director Nir Bergman has a sure touch in showing us the pressures and responses of a full range of individual family members, from the depressed working mother to her children -- five year old daughter, ten year old son, and and their teen brother and sister.
Within very realistic crowded and complicated living, working, school, and peer friendship environments, we see each as distinct individuals with guilts, needs, issues, and talents, and as the dependent members of a family unit dealing with past and present pain and crises, including through music.
I don't know the technicalities of the film stock, but the grittiness of the cinematography contributes to the naturalism, as well as the un-Hollywood, un-pretty look of the actors.
As an Israeli film what also adds to how touching it is is its non-political, non-geographically-necessary-specific content. This is just a beautiful human story of love and responsibility.
While the opening credits are bilingual Hebrew and English, the closing credits, annoyingly, are not.
Going into this movie i had little knowledge regarding the film just the
basic plot and that it had won some awards in Israel. In fact it's the first
ever Israeli film i've ever seen.
Looking at the rather simple plot line I was worried that it would be too boring. I gotta say that despite the simple plotline that it was still rather meaningful as I'm sure many families around the world experience such trials in their lives. Parents and their children fighting even over the smallest things.
I just thought they could have expounded a little more on the lives of the family after the death of the father. Indeed too short at 80 mins. I thought the acting was pretty good especially from the two lead actresses. You could really feel the tension between the two as they argue.
Nice film overall with good acting performances
Maya is a teenager who has hopes of someday having a better life
through her singing. However, on the night of her first gig she is
called home to look after her young brother and sister while her mother
goes to a night-shift at the hospital. This is the pattern of Maya's
life since her father died about 9 months before her mother
Dafna never seems to be around, her elder brother seems to be on a
downward spiral of depression while the youngest children seem adrift
Whenever I sit down to watch a film that comes from Israel, it is tempting to assume that the film will deal with or at least touch on the troubles there. That was the case with this film and I was pleasantly surprised that this was actually a drama about teenage relationships and difficulties. The plot focuses on Maya but draws in the other characters into a story that is rather low-key and small but manages to be involving and rather moving. It's not perfect of course and some viewers may find it's pace a little slow and the insular nature of the drama to be a little folded in on itself (especially if you expected the wider conflicts to be drawn into it in some way). As a teenage drama this is rather touching and is an enjoyable little drama that is based on a well written script.
The performances are also very good and there aren't really any weak links in this regard. Maron is well cast and her Maya is interesting and sympathetic. Banar has a more difficult role but does it well and keeps the audience with her. Gaviratz is good even if his character is the most difficult to get to know; the younger children are also good and rise above the usual cute performances that Hollywood seems to draw from kids on a regular basis. The film paints a small family drama on a little canvas and the good cast are a major part of producing a story that really engages.
Overall this is an enjoyable little family drama that is quite involving and quite touching. The characters are well written and well delivered by a roundly good cast. Short and bittersweet and well worth a watch if you can find it everywhere in the world there are families and teenagers and everywhere in the world they have conflict.
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