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image and nation: The Bubble

Posted by Sisi / November 17, 2007

Photo: Ashraf and Noam, film still courtesy of Les Films Séville.

"The Bubble," directed by Eytan Fox (2006)
Written by Eytan Fox and Gal Uchovsky
Starring Ohad Knoller, Yousef "Joe" Sweid, Daniela Wircer, and Alon Friedmann
Country: Israel

Presented as the opening film for image+nation: 20 years of cultural [r_evolution], which runs from 15 november to 25 november.

Already reviewed by such media outlets as the Montreal Mirror and The National Post, Eytan Fox and Gal Uchovsky's The Bubble is a modern Romeo and Juliet story with a twist: Romeo and Juliet are gay men and Verona is Tel Aviv. However, as is the danger with most analogies, the Shakespearian one doesn't completely stick.

Israeli Noam first encounters Palestinian Ashraf while on reserve duty at a checkpoint. Their chemistry breaks wide open when Ashraf shows up at Noam's doorstep to return his dropped ID. Noam's decision to let Ashraf stay irks his roommates Yali and Lulu at first, but their reactions pale in comparison to what would await Ashraf if he told his family about his sexual orientation.

As Ashraf is given a Hebrew name--Shimi--and hired as a waiter at the café where Yali works, life settles into a semi-normalized routine of work, love, and social outings. The title The Bubble refers to Tel Aviv itself, where many prefer to live in relative peace rather than face up to the violence plaguing the region. This is particularly evident during these scenes of comparative idyll, where Noam and Ashraf are a young couple like any other.

But of course, any film about gay Israeli and Palestinian men in love is bound to end in tears, and eventually reality conspires to complicate things for everyone.

I didn't really know what to expect as I craned my neck to watch The Bubble from first row at Cinéma Impérial. My craptastic seating resulted from my getting in late, itself the result of some confusion with the guest list. On the other hand, I was happy to find a packed room. There seemed to be quite a bit of buzz surrounding image+nation's opening film, and I felt lucky to be part of the action.

It would be wrong to relegate The Bubble to the category of "queer" films, and I think that's one of the points festivals like image+nation have been trying to make: a good film is a good film, and being part of the LGBT community is not a prerequisite for appreciating them. When The Bubble ended to applause, I was bouleversée. It was alternatively funny, scary, and tragic, but always deeply beautiful, perhaps one of the most beautiful films I've seen in a long time.



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