Nina's Tragedies (2003) Poster

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Oedipal desire
keith-28331 May 2004
A lonely, bookish 14 year old boy, Nadav is infatuated with his Aunt Nina, his mother's younger sister. When her husband is killed in a terrorist attack only a couple of months after their marriage, Nina is devastated. Fearing the worst, Nadav is sent by his mother to be with her. So begins 'the happiest days of his life, so far.'

The problem is that Nadav, in his innocence and naivety, believes this to be the beginning of something much more. Nina herself is oblivious to this, seeing only a loving nephew and young boy. Seen through Nadav's eyes, we witness the slightly bizarre reality of the world around him – Nina coming to terms with her grief, his parents dealing with their separation and his father's illness, his best friend (Menachem – a much older man) dealing with his budding relationship with Galina.

While under-stated, Nina's Tragedies is a genuine mix of comedy, pathos, anger and sadness (but thankfully avoiding melodramatic pitfalls), has fully-rounded characters, a tight script and a uniformly excellent cast. It is understandable why the film won eleven Israeli Film Awards in 2003 (including Best Feature).
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A light, affectionate look at one family's trials
sleemon113 July 2004
This film is much more sophisticated than the average Israeli movie, with a thoughtful script, excellent production values, and decent acting. It even unfolds slightly out of sequence, an arty touch that some might find confusing, though everything comes together nicely at the end. It's not just a good movie by Israeli standards, but by any standards. With movies like this one, and Broken Wings, the Israeli cinema is demonstrating a new level of vitality and professionalism.

This movie is narrated by Nadav, a pubescent boy who has a crush on his beautiful aunt, but the focus isn't on young lust as capsule descriptions might lead you to believe. It's much more about the difficulty of growing up and coming to terms with the problems of the adult world, and with the human frailties of your loved ones. And his family is a wacky bunch. Dad has dropped out and joined a bunch of religious fanatics/ecstatics. Mom is a flighty fashion designer who has a new boyfriend every week. And aunt Nina is a recent widow whose grief sometimes separates them, and sometimes brings them closer.

In his struggle to understand the adult world, Nadav occasionally turns to peeping through windows, a practice the director tries to portray as an offshoot of his sensitive, inquiring mind. Some viewers may find it a bit creepy, particularly because of his partner in crime, a socially inept adult named Menahem (played with great comic effect by Dov Navon). But that, too, is a small part of the plot, and since we're peeping at the same things he is, we're in no position to cast stones.

Along with the problems of adult life, the film portrays lots of the small moments that make it so rich and interesting as well. These incidents in the lives of the various characters may be absurd, but they also have the ring of truth about them.

Nadav acts childishly throughout the film, refusing to talk to family members he loves, but that he feels have betrayed him. He comes around in the end, though, and in the heartwarming climax he accepts them with their faults, just as he comes to see that they also accept him with his.
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A wonderful film about the comic and tragic sides of life
eyal philippsborn12 August 2003
One of the most common errors in film reviewing is mistaking "Realistic" with "Genuine". For example, a movie might be considered realistic because it depicts a harsh environment, poverty, crime and all the other features that are a part on any country but it will be completely not genuine because the characters are shallow, stereotypical and the plot would just too dramatic to actually occur like a 16 year old who becomes a drug baron or something (sweet 16 comes to mind as an example).

On the other hand, there are films who arre not very (or even remotely) realistic but they're genuine because their feelings and lines (in the dialogue, enough about drugs) are something we can all relate to. films that are genuine could be: Jerry Mcquire, His girl friday, Trainspotting, se7en etc. I am happy to say that Nina's tragedies, although nowhere near as good as those masterpieces, definitely earns its place in the Genuine hall of fame.

The movie, in short, tells the tale of Nadav, a 14 year old kid who reminisces 6 months of his life, beginning from the death of his aunt's husband up to his father's death. His aunt, Nina ( portrayed by Ayelet Zorer, in my opinion, the Israeli equivalent of Maryl Streep)is shattered and Nadav is asked by his mother to move in with her and Nadav who is secretly infatuated with Nina, is more than happy to be a shoulder to cry on.

Unfortunately, Nadav's already complex plot thickens even more when his father who became a fanatic religious a couple of years ago, falls ill with cancer and wants to reconcile with his estranged son while into Nina's life enters an eccentric photographer (Alon Aboutboul). Nadav is about to face every demon he has in the next six months and in the worst possible time- when he reaches puberty.

The movie is magnificent, it boasts great acting and script but most of all, it has those little scenes that are seemingly insignificant but they are the scenes that make us want to rent it again and again.

8.5 out of 10 in my FilmOmeter. The best Israeli film of 2003, so far.
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Learning About Life Through the Eyes of a Voyeur Teenager
gradyharp26 November 2007
Israeli Writer/director Savi Gavison has a unique concept about the discoveries and joys and travails of coming of age and he makes this tender little story come to life with simplicity and honesty and a large dose of human kindness. The multiple awards this movie garnered are very well deserved: perhaps now that it is readily available on DVD will hopefully bring it to the attention of a larger audience.

HA-ASONOT SHEL NINA (NINA'S TRAGEDIES) takes us on a journey with teenager Nadav (a quietly superb Aviv Elkabeth) whose home life is stressful: his mother Alona (Anat Waxman) has thrown out her husband and takes on lovers like flies to flypaper. Alona's sister Nina (the luminously beautiful Ayelet Zurer) - Nadav's aunt - has relationship troubles with her intended husband Haimon (Yoram Hattab) yet finally marries him, much to the dissatisfaction of Nadav who is privately in love with Nina (his first sensation of attraction and lust). Nadav has a friend Menahem (Dov Navon) with whom he spends his time as a peeping tom, watching the vagaries of his mother and Nina. After Nina's marriage, Haimon is killed in the ongoing violence in Tel Aviv and Nina is destroyed emotionally: Alona sends the more than willing Nadav to live with his aunt, an act that only enforces his passion for Nina. But soon Nina begins to see visions of Haimon running naked in the streets (!) and is befriended by a handsome Avinoam (Alon Abutbul) whose girlfriend Lihi (Osnat Fishman) is a successful artist. Nina and Avinoam have a passionate but brief affair (causing deep bitterness in the jealous Nadav), but the affair is ended when Nina 'sees' the face/ghost of Haimon at her window and Nina longs for the return of Haimon, knowing now that she is pregnant with his child. Navad engages Menahem to help him resolve Nina's new tragedy, but Menahem has found a girlfriend Galina (Jenya Dodina) and has his own 'tragedy' when Galina returns to her ex-lover Alex (Yoram Hattab again!), and it is Menahem's tragedy that leads Navad to the discovery that the very strange Alex is the 'ghost' of Haimon that Nina has been seeing. The story becomes more complex as Nina delivers her baby, Navad's father is taken back by his mother when his diagnosis of cancer is made known, and the mixed set of tragedies intertwine for an ending that surprises everyone.

If the plot sounds convoluted, it is! But the fact that the story is from the obsessively maintained diary of Nadav makes it all connect in the loveliest of ways. The cast is outstanding and the tenor of the times in Tel Aviv is accurately and realistically portrayed and for once allows the constant conflict to be simply background for a story that deals with equally traumatic personal issues - at least in the eyes of an impressionable young teenager. There is much wisdom here, but there is also considerable fine entertainment in a film that sees human foibles as comic as they are tragic. Watching NINA'S TRAGEDIES is a complete pleasure. In Hebrew with English subtitles. Grady Harp
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Best Israeli Movie Ever?
Mike Isaacson30 January 2006
This is a truly great film, perhaps the first Israeli film to enter that category. It is, at once, funny and sad, raucous and sensitive. It beautifully encapsulates the bizarre realities of life in modern Israel, and vividly captures the many moods and faces of Tel-Aviv. Woody Allen would have been proud, even in his heyday, to have produced such a humorous and moving piece. And the acting is just terrific.

I am quite frankly amazed that 3 people found Gadi I's comments ("A nice movie! nothing more") helpful. I cannot comprehend why he finds the Nadav character to be "negative" for "peeking at his aunt" - Anat Zorer is drop-dead gorgeous, and if I had had an aunt who looked like that when I was a post-pubescent teenager, I wouldn't have been able to STOP "peeking" at her! To say that the movie is "just not that good" beggars belief.

Whether you are Israeli or not - and even if you have never been to Israel - if you haven't seen this movie, what are you waiting for?!
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Adult Lives Look Like Magic Realism to a Teen Ager
noralee14 April 2005
"Nina's Tragedies (Ha-Asonot Shel Nina)" is a charming mix of genres.

It's a coming of age story of a young teen boy (played very age appropriately with wide-eyed naiveté by Aviv Elkabeth) who acutely observes his dysfunctional family and their friends without really comprehending their adult emotions.

It's also a sophisticated urban comedy about artists and intellectuals that we are more used to seeing in movies set in Paris or New York, including a fashion designer, a book editor, photographer, sculptor and nudist performance artist.

The casual fillips that make us know they live in Tel Aviv add unique ramifications, as one character is killed while serving in the Army reserves (which for non-Israelis gives the film a post-9/11 overlay) and another gets caught up in ecstatic Orthodox Judaism.

It also capitalizes on unusual twist of fate relationships, as portrayed in such movies as "Next Stop Wonderland" where we think we are watching magic realism but it turns out to be grounded in coincidence.

The boy's desperate crush on his beautiful aunt is the mechanism to link the stories, as his voyeurism becomes a metaphor for the viewer and for artists in general, almost a bit too preciously as the boy is, as in most every such film, a budding writer.

The film combines cheerfully earthy and frank sexuality with intense romantic longing, so it is a much more ironic view of grief than the Israeli film "Broken Wings (Knafayim Shvurot)" that was released in the U.S. last year. There's a long kiss that matches TV's most sensual kiss of the season in "Lost" with beautiful cinematography of temporary fulfillment. The primarily night-time cinematography is lovely.

The acting is wonderful, particularly Ayelet Zurer as the strikingly lovely aunt who has intense chemistry in contrast with the solidity of craggy-faced Alon Abutbul. Anat Waxman makes the quirky mother a real person, not a silly joke. The concluding coda seems too much wishful thinking, even if it is emotionally satisfying.

The credits are not translated into English and many of the subtitles are white on white.
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Lovely Little Film
delphine0904 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I was recommending this film to a friend this morning, but had to carefully avoid mentioned the "teenage peeping tom" aspect of the plot. It's difficult to imagine peeping toms and exhibitionists as being sympathetic, but this movie does imagine them that way.

I have to agree with the above assessment: "fully-rounded characters, a tight script and a uniformly excellent cast." The acting is excellent and effortless, the characters unique and well defined, and all of the characters, even the more "minor" ones, are interesting and compelling.

This movie could have been all kinds of farce, but instead deftly expresses the depth and complexity of the characters' emotions in the face of some really strange goings on - and in the face of tragedy, pain, love and loss.

Ayelet Zurer has us immediately engaged with and caring about Nina. I look forward to seeing more of her work.

Very moving film.
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a brilliantly sad comedy
chktychyna1 August 2004
I just saw this at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and loved it. It didn't feel like most movies I've seen lately. It didn't try to make the main character change for the better. It accepted all the flaws and moved on, focusing on the story. I loved all the connections and the fact that it's advertised to be "a very sad comedy" is exactly right. it is hilarious at some parts, and you want to cry at others, but it works. it's real. i loved it. beautiful cinematography and acting. Another thing i liked about the movie was it was genuinely from a little boy's point of view. when he has the dream with the man's voice becoming a telephone ring, that was priceless and clearly something that a little child would dream because it would be stuck in their heads. great movie. see it :)
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A nice movie! nothing more.
gadi_i22 January 2004
I saw this movie yesterday and i thought it was OK ,but i don't understand what's all the fuss about. The movie tells about the happenings of Nadav, a 13 years old boy, that falls in love with his beautiful aunt, Nina. The movie tells the story through Nadav's eyes from the moment his aunt got married to Haimon, till the moment his father dies of cancer. The movie has some sad and funny moments, and i enjoyed watching it. Most of the actors perform very well, especially Dov Navon, in the role of Menashe that always makes me laugh, even though the character was negative. Anat Waxman and Ayelet Zorer also performed pretty well. In my opinion, the movie's number one problem is that the main character, Nadav, and the actor that plays him, Aviv Elkabetz. First of all, the character is pretty negative: he is peeking at his aunt and some other women together with Menashe, and tends to argue with the people he love and confiscate them(Nina and his Dad). Second of all, the actor wasn't very persuasive and had annoying face. Because of his behavior, i had a problem identifying with the main character and that is what bothered me mostly in the movie(i think i even identified with "The Godfather"'s Michael Corleone more than i identified with him), but i can't blame it all on him. I guess the movie was just not that good. Many parts of it were slow, and it just didn't have such an interesting plot after all (but it is worth seeing). I still don't understand how it got such good reviews and so many Israeli Oscars.

i gave it 7/10.
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An Israeli Tragicomedy
Desertman8430 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Nina's Tragedies is an Israeli tragicomedy that features Ayelet Zurer, Yoram Hattab, Alon Abutbul, Shmil Ben Ari, and Anat Waxman.This is a strikingly original and bittersweet film about the coming-of-age of a young boy.It was written and directed by Savi Gabizon.

Sensitive 14 year-old Nadav is experiencing an intensely emotional time in his life. He has been asked by his wild, recently divorced mother Alona to move in with his Aunt Nina to help comfort her following the death of her husband in a terrorist attack. Nadav is happy to comply since he has a hopeless crush on his stunning aunt. Through his eyes, we share Nina's pain over the death of her husband, her joy at the kindling of a new romance, and her discovery that finding true happiness is never as easy as it seems.

Modern Israeli life is put into the big screen in this well-acted and well written film.Unfortunately,it has a contrived plot and dry humor that the viewer may have a hard time connecting with the film.Also,it was too bad that Ayelet Zurer gives Nina grace,sexiness and a real personality in this sort of unpolished film feature.
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