The Bubble

| September 14, 2007

For those of you savvy to the news, Israelis and Palestinians are still tragically feuding. Thanks to Screenwriter Gal Uchovsky and Writer/Director Etyan Fox, we see both sides of the barbaric indifference Israelis and Palestinians share for each other. Fox’s latest is a testament to the nature of the regional hatred, discrimination, and violence between Arabs and Israelis, also finding its place in Western attitudes, not least likely because of U.S. foreign policy and diplomacy in Israel.
Noam, an Israeli Border Patroller at the West Bank, meets Ashraf, a Palestinian man crossing into Israel, having to be searched by non-Arabic-speaking soldiers. An immigrating Arab woman’s water breaks, and she goes into labor within the first few minutes of the film. The frantic beginning immediately draws Noam as a sympathetic and fragile character when he must prepare to deliver a stranger’s child. An ambulance arrives in time to help perform the birth, but Noam feels guilty for the outcome.
Having found Noam’s ID at the border, Ashraf comes to Noam’s home to return it, and they quickly launch a love affair, having exchanged lustful stares at the West Bank border just before.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is seen through the eyes of both Palestinian and Israel perspectives. Ashraf is allowed to live with Noam and his gay male and straight female, dear friends and roommates and is given work in a restaurant owned by one of them. The foursome’s sexcapades are often endearing and electrifying, sometimes elegantly, all of which are only a culmination of their active social lives in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, Israel.
The “bubble” that is Tel Aviv gets its nickname from its isolation from the conflict as an anonymous woman in the film describes for the audience. Once this bubble is popped, there is no turning back. Their lives are consumed and permanently altered by two suicide bombers, one more familiar to the three Israeli cohabiters.
Noam and Ashraf have a very personal connection to the conflict and may have even played together as children before the two peoples were further segregated, and the home Ashraf’s father built was demolished. Grainy nostalgic flashbacks express for us visually what it must have felt like for these characters and real people like them to see nationalism corrupting lives.
The filmmakers have constructed endings in their films that evoke a similarly tragic tone and voice exemplified by the gay German filmmaker Reiner Werner Fassbinder’s film, Fox and His Friends (1975). Each story latches onto harsh realities that are just as probable as an ending in which a character is triumphant and none of the main protagonists die.
It is not absurd to say that both militant movements and pervasive anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiments that keep the countries at odds over a holy land are equally profane. It is part result of a nation historically plagued by occupation. After given their promised home by the British, the Palestinians were left fighting the Israeli occupation for what they also believe is rightfully theirs. They are shortchanged for a fault not their own: the persecution of Jews by the Christian West.
The Bubble (2007) is as contemporary and socially relevant as the maker’s prior films, Yossi and Jagger (2002) and Walk on Water (2004). The collaborators’ films appear to make central the unrelenting Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as themes of sexuality, repression, hatred, discrimination, and aggression. While these more or less underline the plot, they are the sources of conflict that are so affecting. Fox and Uchovsky are confronting these problems in their world as broadly encompassing moralistic and sometimes tragic dramas about a conflict a particular Western Country should feel obliged to help resolve.

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