This universal story of coming-of-age for a young man is complicated by his being of a Jewish family. Added to the usual angst and uncertainty of an identity-struggling 12 year-old is the traditional Bar Mitzvah requirement. This untimely demand (think Wedding-Planning for non- Jewish cultures) couldn't come at a more difficult time. Also pretty universal is Yoni's experience of being very intelligent, but of small stature, making him a bully-target at school. He not only wishes to be bigger and stronger, he uses his intelligence to finesse his tormentors into helping him get there via a plan to build up his body (Remember the Charles Atlas "Don't-let-him-kick- sand-in-your-face" ads in boys magazines and comics of the 1950's?). So, at this challenging time in his life, his submitting to being force-fed the Hebraic Noah story by a demanding Rabbi seems totally useless to him while he struggles for empowerment in his non-nurturing family. As if this were not enough, his mentally-handicapped older brother is suddenly thrust into his family's life, already at a tipping point. But at a time when all seems nearly hopeless, the tip is in an unexpected direction! Each character in the film, though for the most part more secular than religious, begins to absorb the meaning of their common Jewish heritage, that G-d can provide a way of not only coping with the burdens in life, but that faith, i.e. that something better can lie on the other side of adversity, can bring grace into lives that seem to be spiraling downward. Or, for the more secular, that there is always room to grow and emerge, even in the face of ridicule and "unsolvable" problems. This understanding, this hope, is touchingly and visually offered in the final scenes, without dialog or drum-beating, when we are offered an opportunity to see the biblical/mythical story of Noah and the Flood in a manner relevant to our time: that even for those religiously marginalized believers who cope without losing hope, a new way of seeing can lie ahead - now THAT is what cinematic art is all about!
The Flood (2010)
User ReviewsReview this title
Life Sucks & Then You Learn Things
2 June 2012Warning: Spoilers
Mabul is one of the emotionally heaviest opening night films i've ever seen at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Best to know that in advance, you're in for a night of contemplation and hopefully relief that your life doesn't mirror that of our lead actress. The story of Mabul (The Flood) takes place on the Israeli coast. Teacher Miri has to put up a brave front to keep her business alive. She creates an emotional island for herself by having an affair. Her husband Gidi pretends he's going to work every day. Their son Yoni keeps the class bullies at bay by completing their homework assignments. All hell breaks loose when his autistic brother rejoins the family. An interesting aside is the assumption that it's okay for her young son to act all macho and boss her around since I guess he's a man in training. A great insight into the local mores.
It's good stuff, despite some script stumbles
25 March 2011Warning: Spoilers
The showing I attended had an intermission, which was characterized by a buzz of low conversation as members of the audience tried together to understand what they'd just seen. For my part, I wasn't quite sure whether the man making love to the kindergarten teacher was or was not her husband. It turns out he wasn't, but movie makers should take into account that for the sake of easily confused people like me (especially those whose eyes are sometimes on the subtitles rather than on the actors), characters should look as different from one another as possible. It would also have helped if we'd understood earlier that the story takes place in a small seaside moshav (a moshav being a farming community that operates for some purposes as a collective). That explains why the same people keep popping up in different contexts. It also gives a little believability (although a small additional scriptwriting effort could have provided more) to an incident in which a boy on a bike flees from bullies and finds himself in the very spot that his retarded brother has wandered to. The good news is that what looks like a confusing welter of problems besetting various individuals eventually backs them into a gratifying moment of solidarity. Meanwhile, the acting is exceptional (and that, it seems, is the movie's raison d'etre) and there is a constructive message about the futility of denying our mistakes and weaknesses.