The Bubble (Israel; 90 min.)

directed by: Eytan Fox
starring: Ohad Knoller, Alon Freidman, Daniela Virtzer
Ha Buah

Bruce says: "Having loved Eytan Fox’s last film, WALK ON WATER, I greeted THE BUBBLE with great enthusiasm. I was hoping for a masterpiece. That clearly is not the case. In spite of examining up-to-the-minute issues Fox has made a film that is surprisingly old fashioned and unfortunately too similar to other films on the same subject.

"Noam (Ohad Knoller) is putting in mandatory military time at a border checkpoint. Ashraf is a young Palestinian who is passing through at the moment there is a skirmish involving a pregnant woman. A hotheaded Israeli soldier is about to explode when Noam says to the woman, 'Get back in line; nothing happened here.' For a brief moment, electricity flies between Noam and Ashraf.

"After his two week military stint is completed Noam returns to life in 'the bubble' as Tel Aviv is called, referring to how people work, party and play in a vacuum while ignoring how the rest of Israel is struggling to cope, struggling to keep a lid on things. He works in a music store. One night Noam is at home with his roommates Lulu (Daniela Virtze) and Yelli (Alon Freidma) when the doorbell rings. Lulu assumes it is her date but when the door opens it is Ashraf asking to speak with Noam. Ashraf found Noam’s wallet at the checkpoint. Noam takes Ashraf up on the roof of the apartment building for a view of the city and is pleasantly shocked when Ashraf makes advances. As they talk they discover Ashraf grew up in Issawiya an Arab part of Jerusalem near French Hill, the section Noam where grew up. They even shared a playground before it was closed to Arab children.

"The relationship between the two young men grows more serious amid drama at the restaurant where Yelli works and the angst Lulu experiences over men, working in a boutique and organizing functions for a peace seeking group. In many ways they all are just kids learning to make their way in the world. They drink, do drugs, have sex and fall in and out of love. Ashraf takes an Israeli name and gets a job at the restaurant where Yeili works. Briefly, he leaves Tel Aviv for his family village. The peace group stages a rave on the beach near Tel Aviv and Ashraf shows up after spending hours at the checkpoint. When some bombings hit Tel Aviv and a serious injury affects them all, it looks as though the bubble will inevitably burst.

"The immolation at the film’s ending is both horrifying and sad. Fox admits that is goal was to mix a heavy political statement with a fluffy romantic comedy because that’s the reality of Tel Aviv. The sentiments are genuine and the characters are likeable, however the cinematic terrain is a bit worn. 3.5 cats

"THE BUBBLE screened at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival"

Michael says: "THE BUBBLE is Eytan Fox’s (YOSSI & JAGGER; WALK ON WATER) latest film, exploring homosexuality, youth culture, and the Arab/Israeli conflict in modern Israel. The 'bubble' refers to the lives of young people in Tel Aviv, were the conflicts tearing apart a nation seldom intrude. Noam, Yelli and Lulu are friends and roommates dealing with love and dating, as well as a youthful, political awareness that prompts them to protest the Arab/Israeli conflict in non-violent ways. Noam has just completed his term in the Israeli army, and at a border checkpoint, he is intrigued by a young, handsome Arab man named Ashraf. Back home as a civilian, he joins his friends in planning an anti-war rave while helping them deal with their own relationship issues, when Ashraf shows up at his door. With varying degrees of eagerness, the three roomies decide to help Ashraf stay in Tel Aviv in secret as he and Noam begin a passionate love affair. But, as is so often and so tragically the case, the 'bubble' is a tenuous thing, and eventually the harsh realities of a culture torn by conflict invade their lives to devastating effect.

"THE BUBBLE is Fox’s most fully realized film, and he does a tremendous job portraying a youth culture affected by political strife. The relationships all ring true; between friends, between lovers, between family. The acting is great, and I was pleased to see Ohad Knoller (Yossi from YOSSI & JAGGER) in the lead role of Noam, and Fox repeat performer, Lior Ashkenazi (LATE MARRIAGE; WALK ON WATER) in a small role playing himself. The only missteps came toward the end of the film, when violence intrudes on the character’s lives. I can certainly understand why Fox made this film, and it carries an important and relevant message, but the path toward the climax seems rushed and a little forced. Afterwards, Beth told me that Fox wanted to write a 'Romeo & Juliet' story, which made certain decisions much clearer. All-in-all, a strong film from one of Israel’s premiere young filmmakers. 4 ½ cats.

"THE BUBBLE screened at the Provincetown International Film Festival"