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9/10
A light, affectionate look at one family's trials
13 July 2004
This film is much more sophisticated than the average Israeli movie, with a thoughtful script, excellent production values, and decent acting. It even unfolds slightly out of sequence, an arty touch that some might find confusing, though everything comes together nicely at the end. It's not just a good movie by Israeli standards, but by any standards. With movies like this one, and Broken Wings, the Israeli cinema is demonstrating a new level of vitality and professionalism.

This movie is narrated by Nadav, a pubescent boy who has a crush on his beautiful aunt, but the focus isn't on young lust as capsule descriptions might lead you to believe. It's much more about the difficulty of growing up and coming to terms with the problems of the adult world, and with the human frailties of your loved ones. And his family is a wacky bunch. Dad has dropped out and joined a bunch of religious fanatics/ecstatics. Mom is a flighty fashion designer who has a new boyfriend every week. And aunt Nina is a recent widow whose grief sometimes separates them, and sometimes brings them closer.

In his struggle to understand the adult world, Nadav occasionally turns to peeping through windows, a practice the director tries to portray as an offshoot of his sensitive, inquiring mind. Some viewers may find it a bit creepy, particularly because of his partner in crime, a socially inept adult named Menahem (played with great comic effect by Dov Navon). But that, too, is a small part of the plot, and since we're peeping at the same things he is, we're in no position to cast stones.

Along with the problems of adult life, the film portrays lots of the small moments that make it so rich and interesting as well. These incidents in the lives of the various characters may be absurd, but they also have the ring of truth about them.

Nadav acts childishly throughout the film, refusing to talk to family members he loves, but that he feels have betrayed him. He comes around in the end, though, and in the heartwarming climax he accepts them with their faults, just as he comes to see that they also accept him with his.
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