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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
the most mesmerizing film I've seen in a long time
Ors mother is a recovering drug user and whore. Or takes care of herself and her mother, goes to school, washes dishes at a restaurant, recycles. Or is obsessed with cleaning. Ors mother is not good at cleaning. In fact Or worked out a house cleaning job for her mother but her mother can't hack it and would rather sneak out to work the streets. Eventually johns from the past even visit Ors mother at home. Or deals with her mothers condition at first optimistically, helping her out of her need for self deprivation, but after a while, or can't take it and stops going to school, meets more and more boys who take advantage of her inability to say no, denys the one kid who might have genuinely like her, until finally she too falls into a self destructive cycle.
This is an amazing film about the destructive life of a mother and her daughter who tries to help her but in the end cannot bare the weight of such burdensome obligations. Its hopeless and grim. All the technical aspects compliment the mood of the film. The camera takes an objective view by being completely still and having actions happen even if on the boarder of the frame. The naturalistic sound, with no music, increases a kind of uneasiness in the viewer. Furthermore, the long silences, scenes with just a few words and gestures, natural lighting, sometimes under lit, great spaces and scenery surrounding characters on screen work in a way to create a very unique world with a dense psychological complexity. We are simply viewing this world from the window director Keren Yadaya has given us.
When this film ended I was left feeling that people are parts of whole systems working continuously but constantly wearing down as time goes on. Where everything is connected, the newer and less worn parts work more efficiently for a short time, taking the work load of those in its proximity. But in the end, every part is eventually going to be overworked, and will become faulty.
Yet, despite it's rather dark message this film, and others like it, (mostly, I'm thinking Requiem for a Dream) are not meant to depress people or lead to thoughts of suicide in the dark existence we inhabit. Not at all. Instead, I think films like this are meant to show people how bad things can get, they objectively separate us as viewers from worlds where real people like the ones portrayed might exist, and as viewers we are suppose to more consciously understand the complexity of life and the characters in it. So this being the case, films like these, are odes to life, messages to insight in us living for goodness, away from darkness which the films most immediate layers transmit.
This film is not entertainment, it is art at its highest form. I'm glad I have discovered (thanks to a friend) the work of Keren Yedaya. Its artists like this who constantly reform cinema as not just mindless entertainment but truly as a powerful medium for commenting and critiquing the world around us. For that, an 8 out of 10.
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