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Starring: Sarah Adler, Nikol Leidman, Gera Sandler, Noa Knoller

Directed by: Etgar Keret, Shira Geffen

Produced by: Amir Harel, Ayelet Kait, Yael Fogiel

Written by: Shira Geffen

Distributor: Zeitgeist Films


As seen at AFI Fest 2007:

     Jellyfish is the latest entry into a wave of wonderful contemporary Israeli films, which most notably includes Nir Bergman’s 2002 minor-masterpiece, Broken Wings. While not as tragic as that film, Jellyfish is quite a poignant, personal piece of cinema unto its own. By the end of the picture’s trim seventy-eight minute running length, I had developed a strong bond with each and every one of its touchingly authentic characters.

     The film is constructed using the ever-popular modern “intertwining stories” structure. The viewer is first introduced to Batya (Sarah Adler), a young wedding caterer who is depressed with her life. Batya’s boyfriend has just left her, she cannot carry out relationships with either of her divorced parents, and she lives in a scummy apartment with a leaky ceiling. She happens upon somewhat of a miracle, however, when she discovers a little girl (Nikol Leidman) wearing only panties and an inner-tube emerging from the water of the ocean as she walks along a beach. The girl doesn’t speak. Displeased by the police department’s nonchalant attitude toward the girl when she tries to turn her in, Batya decides to take the girl under her wing for the time being.

     Batya is later fired from her job when she unsuccessfully tries to look after the girl as she works a shift at the wedding reception of Keren (Noa Knoller) and Michael (Gera Sandler), two other characters that Jellyfish follows. The Happy Couple has grand plans for a honeymoon in the Caribbean, but these are destroyed when Keren breaks her leg climbing out of a bathroom-stall with a jammed lock at the reception as everyone else dances the night away. Their replacement vacation to an Israeli hotel proves torturous; Keren finds herself stunningly unsatisfied with the facilities and the circumstances that accompany their stay. Frustrated by her constant complaining, Michael nearly finds himself in an affair with another one of the hotel tenants.

     Also featured in the film is Joy (Ma-nenita De Latorre), a Filippino foreigner who works as a live-in helper for elderly people in order to support her young son back home. Joy’s latest client is Malka (Zaharira Harifai), a crabby old woman whose actress daughter doesn’t have time to look after her. Joy and Malka can barely converse with each other as Joy isn’t fluent in Hebrew, making interaction even more tedious for the both of them.

     I realize that I have spent the bulk of this review simply describing the characters and their actions. But that is precisely the joy of Jellyfish: experiencing these people’s lives and the ways in which they respond to the happenings of the film’s story. Not one character stands out above the rest (although Batya does come close at times), making the movie a true ensemble effort. As audience members, we merely take in the picture’s moments and their inherent richness, allowing ourselves to feel what goes on. For me to rattle off praise of the actors and of the script would, in a sense, trivialize the unique, affecting experience that Jellyfish offers. It isn’t particularly deep or even particularly memorable, but it certainly does leave an impression on the viewer. For this reason, I regress to mere plot description. If the characters and their stories sound interesting to you from my summary, then you owe it to yourself to check the film out.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 11.21.2007

Screened on: 11.4.2007 at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood, CA.


Jellyfish is Not Rated and runs 78 minutes.

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