Jellyfish

2007, Movie, NR, 78 mins

Review

JELLYFISH | MEDUZOT
starstarstarstar
Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret's melancholy fable follows three restless women forced to confront the roots of their unhappiness, their paths occasionally crossing but never intersecting.

Tel Aviv, Israel: Waitress Batya's (Sarah Adler) life has hit an all-time low: Her boss is a petty bully, her boyfriend has just dumped her, her apartment is a dump and the landlord just stopped by to hike the rent -- repairs aren't part of the deal. Batya's self-centered mother calls constantly and never listens to a word her daughter says; her father is too busy with his neurotic girlfriend to call at all. One Friday night, as she's sitting on the beach looking forlornly out to see, a five year old (Nikol Leidman) emerges from the water, naked except for a bikini bottom and a life ring. The police ask Batya to keep the silent child for the weekend, and her presence stirs up a series of painful memories. Filipino home-care worker Joy (Ma-nenita De Latorre, a caregiver in real life ) is isolated by the fact that she doesn't speak Hebrew and desperately misses her young daughter, who wants nothing for her upcoming birthday except a visit from her mom. Actress Galina (Ilanit Ben-Yaakov) hires Joy to help her ill-tempered mother Malka (Zaharita Harifai) around the house, and Malka takes out her resentment that Galina is too busy rehearsing an avante-garde production of Hamlet to do it herself. For her part, Galina resents her mother's dismissive attitude towards her work.

Newlywed Keren (Noa Knoller) breaks a leg at her own wedding to Michael (Gera Sandler), forcing them to cancel their Caribbean honeymoon for something closer to home: A shabby hotel in town whose one asset is an ocean view -- except that their room overlooks the parking lot. Keren complains constantly, even after Michael gets them moved to another room; when another guest, a poetess (Bruria Albeck) Michael meets in the elevator, offers them her suite, Keren is convinced that her new husband is already cheating on her. Batya, Joy and Keren pass through each other's lives without knowing it, each wrestling with the same fundamental question: Why are the relationships that should foster strength and emotional security so often the source of such unhappiness?

This first collaboration between Israeli novelist Keret (WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY) and his wife, actress and theater director Geffen earned a Camera d'Or prize for best first feature at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. The film's blend of everyday urban angst and surreal flourishes, including dreamlike allusions to water, ships in bottles and, yes, jellyfish, is not for all tastes, but produces haunting juxtapositions. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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