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Stephen S. Campanelli
In an old apartment building on the wrong side of the tracks, two women, unknown to each other, live across the hall on the second floor. Galia is an assassin involved against her will with the local sex-traffic mafia. All she wants is to reunite with her little daughter that she left back home in Ukraine. Eleanor is a grocery store cashier and a battered wife. She dreams of winning the lottery and running away from her abusive husband. Galia and Eleanor don't know each other, but as neighbors they share two things: an adjoining wall and a strong need to plan their escape. As Galia disobeys her latest contract, a woman target, and Eleanor discovers that she's pregnant, the two women decide to take action against their oppressors in a fight for survival and freedom. Written by
Galia is a Ukrainian prostitute stuck in Israel. Things get even worse when she is forced to carry assassinations for the criminals to which she is property. All day long, Galia does nothing but stay in her apartment, waiting for hit assignments. Eventually, she strikes a friendship with her neighbour, Elinor, who is herself victim of an abusive husband.
This movie combines several cliché elements yet delivers them in a captivating way and puts some real heart in what could easily have been another run-of-the-mill thriller. There's a definite Besson influence here, particularly elements of "Nikita" and "The Professional". Director Danny Lerner focuses on these two women, particularly Galia, and paints an ugly picture of a world where women are still basically "property". Alhough Galia carries cold, calculating hits like a pro, she turns into an obedient girl when facing her "bosses" and gets slapped around. As a viewer, it's tough not to cringe. Another interesting aspect as a North Anerican was the Israelian setting and the exploration of different cultures, since Galia herself is an outsider.
Ninette Tayeb is really solid as Elinor but it is Olga Kurylenko who really shines here. Other movies that she was featured in showed an actress with potential and here, she realizes much of it. In most scenes, she is very believable and the role is rather demanding as Olga shifts from recluse to opening to Elinor and from a fragile woman to a cold hearted killer. The script helps but the whole story depends on Kurylenko's ability to draw us in and make us understand when words are lacking.
The finale is thrilling enough and fans of "Carlito's Way" will see a nice nudge to this film's own finale as a bunch of crooks pursue Olga and Elinor in a terminal station. Much like Besson, Lerner has crafted a movie that mixes the grittiness of an old school Scorcese with the more naive vibe of a classic Hollywood flick.
The result is a solid thriller with an international flavor and a great cast.
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