Saturday, February 16, 2008


Eytan Fox's The Bubble might be the best movie, so far, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Documentaries on the subject can't resist taking one side over the other, while narrative films tend to simultaneously explain the complicated history and carry on a fictional story. Eytan Fox tries a new approach. By now, he expects the audience has grasped a basic history of the struggle, so he simply let's it float around his characters. Fox favors emotion and relationships over propaganda and rhetoric.

The Bubble centers in on a love affair between Ashraf (a Palestinian) and Noam (an Israeli). Fox uses the attraction between the two men to diffuse common anxieties that exist between the divided cultures. At a checkpoint, Israeli soldiers line up Palestinians and ask them to lift their shirts for a security check. When Ashraf lifts his tank top, Noam eyes him, and the tension of the moment moves from severe to sexual. Later in the film, after sex, Noam tells Ashraf that they were "explosive" together. Ashraf finds this an odd choice of words since he associates it with suicide bombing and air strikes. Noam tells him, "here we use it to describe something good, great, wonderful...".

The two men agree not to waste precious time together debating politics. It's a reality they don't ignore, but with the effort it takes just to see each other - passing through the checkpoints, dealing with Ashraf's brother-in-law (a member of Hamas) - they know their hearts are ticking time clocks at the mercy of the forces around them.

The ending of the The Bubble is disappointing because it betrays some of what the movie accomplishes in the first 100 minutes. But Eytan Fox stills holds to the message at hand. He doesn't pretend that the Israeli and Palestinian governments can resolve things solely through handshakes and hugs, but, in the meantime, if two victims from opposite sides can get in bed together - the old fashioned way! - it can only help things along.


ryan said...

His first movie, "Yossi and Jagger" (sp?) is really good too. It's about two Israeli soldiers having an affair. Very simple and sweet. I haven't seen "The Bubble" yet, but I really want to.

Fox said...

I remember that you really liked "Yossi and Jagger". I'm excited to check out the rest of his films.