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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
To be perfectly honest, I found it more than slightly perplexing that an Israeli film, in Hebrew, is titled in the IMDb in its French title (in Hebrew, it's titled "Or", a semi-common name meaning "light). The film received impressive accolades at Cannes festival which may explain why France is a major market for this film.
"Or" (Dana Ivgy in a mesmerizing performance) is a teenager that spends the better part of her days on taking care of her mother, Ruthie (Ronit Elkabetz in an equally gut wrenching performance). Ruthie is a recovering (with varying levels of success) drug addict and barely adequate to take care of herself, let alone, support a family. That task is entirely in Or's responsibility and her odd jobs interfere with her educational agenda (which will turn out to be the least of her worries).
What Or is deprived in parenting, she compensates by casual flings with boys who, more often than not, exploit her good nature and a need to be loved for, well, you all know what men want.
Surprisingly enough, despite the harshness of Or's existence, she is a jubilant girl with a very strong bond with her mother and even manages to conduct a border line Friendship/Romance with a pensive classmate, Ido (Nesher Cohen).
Unfortunately (read: inevitably), old demons from the past threaten to shatter the already fragile family and when dubious character's appear on Or and her mother's dilapidating apartment, aided with the outright disapproval of Ido's family to his relationship with Or, the harsh existence calls for cutting corners solutions with devastating effects (which I can't reveal).
This movie is a minimalist movie with no camera movements, no voice over and no music of any kind. I believe it was meant to intensify the experience as opposed to refining it. If that was the objective of the director, it was accomplished fully largely to its raw direction and impressive acting. An objective that was compromised (or maybe unjustly low-prioritized) was depicting a subtle portrait of Or.
Subtlety is very rare commodity in this film. Extensive nudity, graphic sex scenes and other scenes that don't leave anything for imagination turn the already hard to absorb feature into a film that is profoundly gut wrenching but emotionally too disturbing to be enjoyed.
I should note, in the name of objectivity, that the extremely explicit nature of this film (a disturbing trait many Israeli films still hone) might not deter people with a less conservative standpoint than my own but even those of you who are less troubled by nudity, sex and blunt content in general, should expect a very difficult film to watch and for the privilege of a film pondered on long after the screening ends, one must prepare to pay for with a very unnerving viewing.
8 out of 10 in my FilmOmeter.
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