Well paced, well acted... an interesting if exaggerated take on male buddies
What develops in a little community where women have no presence? In an odd 1989 movie called SONNY BOY, it seemed that in such a community a man has the choice of either assuming a woman's role or expressing all his emotions by way of violence. In GOD'S NEIGHBORS, on the other hand, we see male friends commonly treating each other with an extra measure of tenderness and concern while still ready with plenty of violence against their enemies. The dearth of women in GOD'S NEIGHBORS is partly due to the religious life style of the characters, partly written in explicitly as background (the protagonist's mother has died), and partly just a constant coincidence. Women just don't happen into the scene much aside from the plot thread that is set into motion by the appearance of Miri-- played by Rotem Zissman-Cohen, who seems to be uncommonly busy these days filling supporting roles in top-notch movies. The plot is a little like Lenny Bruce's routine about the provocatively dressed woman. "Do you like the way she looks? - Sure. - Would you like to date her? - Sure. - Would you like to marry her? - If we get along well, why not? - And then would you let her dress that way? - Are you kidding? That's my wife!" The protagonist is conflicted in a similar way, but the woman starts to draw him away from the culture of violence around him (which, the Hebrew dialogue makes clear, is heavy with sublimated sex) and there is a wise rabbi or two on hand with good advice that he may or may not take. The acting is very believable, with fluent and occasionally funny dialogue, the violence is not glamorized but is rather phony-looking (you can see one or two punches miss), and for the Israeli viewer the Bat Yam location is vivid. For some reason the Israeli funders have in recent years been favoring films that emphasize their directors' home towns: Tiberias in "The World is Funny," Kfar Sava in "Lost Islands," Jerusalem in "Obsession," Haifa in "The Matchmaker."
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