Sunday, September 09, 2007
We had enjoyed gay Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox's previous film Walk on Water, so we were eager to see his new one, The Bubble (or "ha-Buah" in Hebrew). It is a vivid and moving view of life in Israel, as seen through the eyes of three young friends who share an apartment in Tel Aviv, and the dramatic chain of events put into play when one of them falls in love with a Palestinian. The opening sequence shows a West Bank checkpoint, and the tension of Israelis imposing necessary security measures on Palestinians entering into Israel, who suffer hassles, indignities, and sometimes worse, even those who are innocent. This serves as a checkpoint of perspective against the lives of the protagonists in Tel Aviv, where they are relatively insulated from danger, and can pursue liberal activism, hang out in trendy cafes, dance to good music (the film has a great soundtrack), and live their "Sex In the City"-style personal dramas. This is life in "the bubble". After Ashraf, the Palestinian boy, hooks up with Noam (one of the flatmates), he assumes an Israeli identity for a while, but must eventually return to his family in Nablus, providing a view into a very different life in the West Bank. The bubble eventually bursts in unexpected and dramatic ways, as the relationship between these star-crossed lovers unfolds. The characters and events in this film obviously carry heavy political symbolism, but they don't collapse under its weight. The filmmaker keeps the characters real and believeable, and there are only a few plot/character points molded for allegorical necessity that require much willing suspension of disbelief. We found ourselves swept up by the story, enlightened by a glimpse of the tension underlying daily life in Israel, and the realization that we here in America are truly the ones living in a bubble.