A winner! The young cast is outstanding! It s also one of the most unflinching looks at the tension burbling under the surface in modern day Israel that I've ever seen.- --Craig Phillips,Green Cine Daily
(special thanks to Film Movement for providing me with a screener!)
Israel is, this movie reminds us, something of a melting pot. We have three young male characters we follow through this story, and each is a different nationality. We have Sholmi (Nadir Eldad), who works as a pizza delivery boy for an extremely unpleasant man and who is also captain of his local soccer team. Then we have Dima (David Taplitzky), a Russian immigrant who works for some shady types dealing drugs. Finally there's Adiel (Adiel Zamro), a student who is either Ethiopian by birth or just of Ethiopian ancestry. One interesting side effect of this cast of characters is that the movie is in three different languages: Hebrew, Russian and Amharic.
The movie begins with a rather bored-looking Dima stealing the scooter Shlomi uses for doing deliveries. This appears to be just a random act and not targeted at Shlomi in particular. He then spends some time riding around his hometown as Shlomi has to explain to his unsympathetic, violent boss that the scooter was stolen. Dima eventually dumps the scooter where it's found by Adiel and a friend of his as they walk home from soccer practice. They aren't sure what to make of it, but certainly know what to do with the pizza they find inside the scooter's cargo box. Unfortunately, as they're enjoying their new-found tastiness, Shlomi and his brother find them, assume they're the ones who stole the scooter and beat five kinds of snot out of them.
We then spend some time following each of the three boys through their lives. Dima's home life, we learn, is very unhappy. His father is unemployed, verbally abusive and holds out dreams of moving to Germany. Dima himself seems fairly directionless, and skips school a lot. Adiel has a significantly better family life, and has a brother he dotes on. He's got dreams of playing soccer, but doesn't think they're realistic dreams. As for Shlomi, well, his family life is right between the other two and he clearly wants to play soccer professionally.
And soccer is, in fact, what winds up bringing the boys together, as all three end up on the same team. Dima initially is the towel boy, but quickly winds up being recruited to play goalie when the regular goalie is injured. He proves to be very good at this, and within a couple games, the three boys, who had all initially disliked and distrusted each other, are well on their way to becoming life-long friends. That is provided that the rest of the world doesn't get in the way...
I liked this movie. It was nice to see a film about Israel that has nothing to do with tensions between Jews and Muslims, but instead is about tensions between different groups of Jews. It was also very nice to see a film that really didn't have that much to do with religion and had nothing at all to do with terrorism. I was very interested in the three boys and their fates, especially Dima's. All the young actors do a great job in their roles and I liked seeing their stories develop and intertwine.
However I must complain about one thing, and that is the fact that the film doesn't so much end as it just kind of stops. We have a moment that was largely inevitable, I suppose, and then nothing but the closing credits. That was a little irksome, but that complaint aside this was a good, entertaining film.
== SHORT FEATURE ==
This month's short feature is a twenty minute documentary about African refuges living in Israel and attending a Hebrew language class. Yes, it's news to me that there's African refuges in Israel, but there you are. The movie mostly pays attention to a man named Kokou who is a refugee from Togo and seems to be very bitter about the way the Ministry of the Interior is treating him.
This was an interesting little "slice of life" film, but ultimately nothing really great. I think it could make for a much more interesting full-length documentary, however, and that's something I'd like to see. As it was, well, it was ok.