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The Bubble
cast: Ohad Knoller, Yousef 'Joe' Sweid, Daniela Virtzer, Alon Friedmann, and Oded Leopold

director: Eytan Fox

115 minutes (15) 2007
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
TLA DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
Being based in Scotland I have to laugh at the sometimes-churlish nature of the sectarian divide that splits Caledonia. There is a gash in this predominately Christian country. The divide is along the denominations of Protestants and Catholics, and although contentious, it is manifested most publicly in the terracing of football stadia. However, this is a small grumble compared to the troubles in the middle-east territories of Israel and Palestine.

Set in Tel Aviv, The Bubble (aka: Ha-Buah - in Hebrew) is a charming story in the main, but like all things centred in a war zone, tragedy is never far away. Three Israelis share a bijou apartment in the chic area of Israel's capital and are on occasion joined by their Palestinian friend. They all want the war to end. But, in order to keep themselves at arm's length for the grim realities of the conflict, the friends effectively create a cocoon of camp living in which to carry out their existence: hence the title. Then, when there is a need to engage with forces on either side of the conflict in order to unite lovers on either side of the divide, the cocoon they have created is torn asunder; life changes, and not necessarily for the better.

Director Eytan Fox (Yossi & Jagger) handles this difficult subject with commendable intelligence and delivers a sincere and heartfelt movie laced with mirth, introspective humour and no shortage of political intrigue. The film is unapologetically camp in parts, as if to ham up the difference between the relative freedom of the Israelis versus the squalor and restricted lives of their Palestinian neighbours.

In the relatively unknown (to the western cinema audience, at least) cast there are a couple of shining stars; Yousef 'Joe' Sweid puts in an enjoyable shift as the flamboyant restaurateur, Yelli. However, the superb Ohad Knoller as Noam, arguably the central character to the plot, eclipses even him. There is a significant portion of the film shot in Hebrew, which could put some viewers off. And, be warned, the love-interest, which carries through this film, is overtly gay, both in dialogue and in cinematography. This only adds to the feeling of forbidden love between the lovers from the opposite sides of the bigoted divide that cuts into their daily lives.

Reminisces of Sex And The City and Friends are echoed throughout The Bubble. It is a thoroughly enjoyable film, laced with love, laughs and excellent dialogue. Indeed, the scene when the flatmates consider whether suicide bombers receive virgins that conform to their own sexuality is a perfect example of the dark humour that makes The Bubble a movie well worth watching. And, it certainly puts into perspective ones view on how ugly sectarianism can really be.

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