Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Bubble/Ha-buah

Last night I went to a showing of an Eytan Fox's "The Bubble" (ha-buah in Hebrew). I wanted to like the movie but found it too heavy-handed. Some things were depicted very well--the humiliation of Palestinians forced to pass through Israeli checkpoints was spot-on. Also well shone is Tel Aviv's gay culture. The characters seemed real and believable, except, perhaps Ashraf's brother, named, unsubtly, Jihad. As a writer of stories, though, I dislike clumsiness in the plot as well as distortion of circumstantial nuances.

The first problem: as the young hedonistic peaceniks prepared their "Rave Against the Occupation" they didn't invite Palestinians, citing the problems with checkpoints etc. This would be credible, except that there are over a million Arabs living inside Israel's borders. Why didn't they think to advertise in Arab townships inside Israel? I could see that Fox wanted to show their "Bubble", their complete lack of connection to other communities, but somebody on the rave planning committee should have proposed the idea before it was dismissed.

The second problem: hiring Ashraf at the cafe as "Shimi" and hiding his Palestinian identity, as if Arabs were not allowed employment in restaurants in Tel Aviv--as if the patrons would assume that because he's an Arab, he's a terrorist. I don't buy it.

The third problem: the scene in which a Palestinian woman is killed in Nablus by IDF soldiers. Utterly absurd that a pair of Israeli soldiers (just a pair, not even a squad) pursuing "unseen terrorists" drive up into Nablus and shoot her by accident, when nobody else is even visible... I'm not saying the IDF hasn't killed civilians. Unfortunately, quite the contrary. But in terms of the movie, this could have happened in a more believable and even more powerful way--say, for example, as she's passing through a checkpoint, an Israeli soldier has an accident with his rifle. Then the IDF would have to contain an angry crowd, confronted with witnesses. But unfortunately, the way in which the sister is martyred is cheap and implausible.

The fourth problem: the narrative of Noam's deceased mother, a veritable martyr for coexistence. Too brazenly heroic and sentimental.

Unlike some of the other audience members, I didn't have a problem with the ending, which I'll not give away. But I hope to see future treatments of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a queer lens which are not so ham-fisted and unsubtle.

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