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Or shoulders a lot: she's 17 or 18, a student, works evenings at a restaurant, recycles cans and bottles for cash, and tries to keep her mother Ruthie from returning to streetwalking in Tel Aviv. Ruthie calls Or "my treasure," but Ruthie is a burden. She's just out of hospital, weak, and Or has found her a job as a house cleaner. The call of the quick money on the street is tough for Ruthie to ignore. Or's emotions roil further when the mother of the youth she's in love with comes to the flat to warn her off. With love fading and Ruthie perhaps beyond help, Or's choices narrow. Written by
strong social and moral comment, unequal film creation
'Or' means in Hebrew 'light' and may be both a feminine or masculine name. The name is the symbol of what the main character apparently is - a luminous teenager having to deal with a life of privation in today's Israel, taking care of with her prostitute mother and trying to keep her away of the streets, going to school and working in the evenings and having a teen affair with the boy in the neighbors. However, life is not simple for director Keren Yedaya's characters, with the society around keeping them not only at their economic level, but also defining by birth or genetics the moral path of their lives. In the director's view the guilt is however not only with the society but also with the characters themselves, who are not able to draw enough internal power to overcome and break the borders of their condition. It is a social but also a moral comment.
The film belongs to the wave of somehow supported but still low cost wave of production in the Israeli cinema in the last few years, which gave a few more at least interesting and promising productions. Although the subject is interesting and the story has logic and emotion, there are two principal flaws in the production. One is the too obvious and programmatic approach, which kind of pushes the viewer to the director's views rather than letting him develop his or her own feelings abut the story and the situations. The second is the length, there are too many dead moments where it looks like there is nothing to be said, takes where 15 seconds would be enough but the director is spending 50. Still, the film is wonderfully acted by Dana Ivgy and Ronit Elkabetz and the atmosphere of the less privileged Israel is very well caught. A film to watch.
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