Sunday, December 23, 2012

“A Bottle In The Gaza Sea” – Movie Review



This week, my movie class snuck in one final screening before the holidays – a French-made drama titled, “A Bottle In The Gaza Sea”. 



When a young woman in Israel and a young man from Palestine begin communicating with each other, will they eventually be able to meet or will the political strife besetting their respective lands forever keep them apart?



Tal is just barely 17 years old when her family has moved from France to Israel.  Adjusting to a new culture in the city of Jerusalem is difficult enough when this teenager is shaken to her core after a terrorist bombing nearby.  In her frustration, she writes a note to The Palestinians and seals it in an emptied scotch bottle, then beseeches her older brother Eytan, a soldier in the Israeli army, to toss it into the Gaza Sea in the hope that it will eventually reach its intended audience. 

Ultimately, the bottle washes up on the shores of Gaza when a group of young Palestinian men are horsing around on the beach.  They open the bottle and read the note, each taking their turn ridiculing the naive young woman who was its author.  But it is one of these young men – Naim, a 20 year old college dropout – who dares to take up Tal’s challenge to respond via e – mail.  Thus begins something of an epistolary courtship between the two. 

Initially, their e – mails to each other are intense, angry and antagonistic.  Slowly, however, each one reveals their own truths and personal realities to the other and over time, they begin to acquire greater sympathy to the other’s plight.  This turns out to be potentially dangerous as Naim’s fellow Palestinians begin to suspect that he may be a traitor while Tal’s family fears that knowledge of their existence and whereabouts by a Palestinian may endanger the entire family.  With mutual curiosity and affection for each other increasing, they plan to meet – but will they actually be able to achieve their plan or will it only manage to imperil them both?       



“A Bottle In The Gaza Sea” is a story that takes many unanticipated twists and turns, right up to – and including – its climax.  While it is at its heart something of an updated version of “Romeo & Juliet” told via 21st century technology’s missives, it remains nevertheless a classic tale made even more memorable by the mere fact that so much of its story is based in some rather ugly historical facts.  The ending of this movie is one that will – as trite as it may be to say – have you on the edge of your seat; the filmmaker does an excellent job of building suspense toward the finale. 

If I were to cite any flaw in “A Bottle In The Gaza Sea”, it might be its dizzying array of dialects that fall upon the ear of the audience.  As stated above, this is a French – made film, so there is some French spoken in the scenes with Tal’s family.  But you also hear Hebrew and Arabic as well as some English.  Granted, the movie has subtitles – all of which are in English – but nevertheless, it can be a little distracting (especially so, I would assume, if you speak one of more of those languages, which I don’t – I personally find that English is enough of a struggle without venturing to a foreign tongue). 

While “A Bottle In The Gaza Sea” isn’t exactly the kind of movie I’d normally run out to see on my own, I’m certainly glad that I did have the opportunity.  Given the recent news headlines about Hamas-led attacks on Israel followed by their own response, this film is certainly timely, if nothing else.  Unfortunately, I suppose you could make the case that any motion picture about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be timely whenever it was released.  It may be hard to say that this is a film you would enjoy, but “A Bottle In The Gaza Sea” is one that should definitely not be ignored, either. 


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