From all appearances, Blush would seem to be a coming of age lesbian drama about two Jewish high school girls, Naama (Sivan Noam Shimon) and Dana (Jade Sakori), exploring their sexuality along with drugs, alcohol, and the Tel Aviv night life. Actually, I found all of this to be secondary to the main story line of the movie, which follows Naama and her family trying to figure out what happened to Naama’s sister, Liora (Bar Ben Vakil), after she goes missing for 3 weeks. That story has a lot of tension and drama through the mystery of this girl’s disappearance, but the stakes are lowered when Naama never seems too worried about her sister’s absence. At one point, she tells Dana that she always does this and she always comes back, which told me that she was never in any real danger and deflated anything that once was at stake in the film.
The performances all around are pretty good. Shimon and Sakori build a very naturalistic friendship that changes very quickly into something more intimate when Dana initiates their first kiss. The two actresses seem very comfortable together and even the obligatory sex scene between them has an authenticity to it, an innocent sweetness as Naama awkwardly giggles her way through it. Unlike most sex scenes, it was constructed in a way that actually builds character, using the characters’ nudity as a metaphor for this being the one scene in the film where we truly see them for who they are without all of the disguises they wear for everyone else.
I guess my least favorite character was Gidor (Dvir Benedek), Naama’s father. He’s a fairly flat and stereotypical father figure, loafing through his own existence and blind to what’s going on around him. When he feels his masculinity threatened, he lashes out, finding something to criticize in his children just to assert his authority over them. Maybe the most interesting thing about the character is also the most despicable: his racism against Arabs. At one point, he and Naama go to an Arab police station because they heard a loose tip that Liora might be stuck there, and Gidor starts insisting on speaking to men at the station who are of higher and higher authority, hoping to find a commander who isn’t Arab. It complicates his character while weakening it because he can’t see past these men being Arabs even if it means finding his daughter. It’s fairly disgusting, and I wish Naama had been a strong enough character to slap him in the face and explain why he was being a moron, but like all things, Naama just goes along with everything.
The DVD also includes a bonus short film called “This is You and Me” directed by April Maxey. The short is a really boring and pretentious film about two girls meeting at a bar and hooking up before one of them freaks out for reasons unclear and the two have pseudo-philosophical discussions about nothing. It’s only 15 minutes long, but that’s plenty of time to build these two characters and give the film some sort of purpose.
Available now on DVD from Film Movement.