As seen at AFI
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
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.
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.
11.4.2007 at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood, CA.
Jellyfish is Not Rated and runs 78
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