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"The Bubble" is the story of a group of young people who live in Tel-Aviv, Israel. The movie follows the group's difficulties of living in Israel's reality. Their routine breaks when a young Palestinian man enters their lives.
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I have been really impressed with films coming out of Israel in the last decade. Israeli filmmakers have been producing work that is quite edgy and provocative, exploring various cultural and religious taboos within Judaism and the Israel/Palestine conflict. Israeli filmmakers have an audacity in tackling these issues in an unflinching manner, that’s seriously lacking in their North American counterparts. The current climate of Israeli cinema is much like that of European cinema, which is extremely political and edgy.
Two Israeli filmmakers whose work really stands out, for me anyway, are Amos Gitai and Eytan Fox. While both have the European sensibility that their colleagues do, they also come from the John Cassavetes/Robert Altman school of filmmaking: sprawling, intimate ensemble character studies/mosaics where plot and story take a back seat. Like Cassavetes and Altman, Gitai and Fox are unafraid to take chances and let things vamp.
Gitai sprung on the international scene with his 1999 masterpiece Kadosh, a film about two Hassidic Jewish sisters in Jerusalem's Orthodox Mea Shearim quarter and their struggle with living in this segregated, ultra religious and rather misogynistic community. Fox, who is openly gay and who’s films tackle Israeli/Jewish issues with a gay slant, followed three years later with his feature debut, Yossi & Jagger, which focuses on the homosexual romance between two Israeli soldiers. A precursor of sorts to Brokeback Mountain. Yossi & Jagger won acclaim and several awards at film festivals, in particular gay film festivals.
Eytan Fox continues his oeuvre with his latest film The Bubble. The film tells the story of three very hip twenty-something roommates, Yelli and Noam, two gay guys, and Lulu, a girl, who live in a hip Tel Aviv neighbourhood and how their lives are affected by Noam’s romance with Ashraf, an illegal gay Palestinian immigrant. The title and the story of The Bubble are a metaphor for the notion that Tel Aviv and its citizens are isolated from the turmoil of the Israel/Palestine conflict, as the roommates and their newfound friend live a rather carefree and escapist lifestyle that is undone in the end by tragedy.
While the conclusion of the film does degenerate somewhat into heavy-handed melodrama, it is still quite a worthwhile viewing experience, because Fox takes the classic Romeo and Juliet forbidden inter-romance scenario that has been used as the centerpiece of countless films about ethnic/religious conflicts (Brooklyn Babylon being one of the worst, what was Marc Levin thinking?!), and applies a homosexual twist to it. Unlike here in the Western world, homosexuality is a huge taboo in the Eastern world, which makes the film that much edgier.
Also, Fox portrays, with witty and fun humour in the film’s lighter moments, how the youth of the East are becoming more and more Westernized in their thought and lifestyles, as Noam, Yelli and Lulu wear trendy Western clothing, listen to trendy Western music, hold a rave, etc., to the point that they have almost completely lost touch with their roots. I would have liked to have seen that theme explored further, however, there is already quite a bit happening in The Bubble and adding that to the mix would’ve been overkill. Perhaps Fox will delve further into that theme in a future film.