Early this year, the joint 2008 Israeli-German film Sof Shavua B’Tel Aviv—literally, Weekend in Tel Aviv—reached the U.S., where it is now available on DVD. Be forewarned: it is a sentimental film, and considerable resistance might be necessary to keep it from shredding your heart. An elderly Romanian immigrant, enraged at the Israeli Army, has recently lost his soldiering son; a 17-year-old girl, estranged from her Orthodox father following an unmarried pregnancy, pursues her own drumbeat while living on her own; both these persons befriend a Palestinian boy, Tarek, whom terrorists have smuggled into Tel Aviv to have him launch a suicide bombing in a crowded marketplace. The boy, an amateur footballer, has been separated from his sport so that a disgrace into which his father has fallen can be erased by the successful execution of the mission. (Four Israelis were killed in the 2006 incident that inspired the film.) However, a faulty detonator must be repaired before this can happen. With the Israeli police, alerted, hunting him down, Tarek is stranded for the weekend in Tel Aviv.
The film tries balancing wishfulness and harsh reality, although the sad conclusion is unavoidable. Dror Zahavi, the film’s director, wanted to show “human beings on both sides. No monsters, just human beings with families and friends, joy and distress, people who dream to end the circle of pain and could very well live peacefully side by side.”
Zahavi, himself born in Tel Aviv, directed with modest expertise; but some of the writing, by Ido and Jonatan Dror,* however contrived in terms of plot, admits terrific lines of dialogue, such as this tautological remark by Tarek: “I’m angry at whatever I’m angry at.”
Lugubrious music by Misha Segal. Best Film, Sofia International Film Festival.
* All my efforts have failed to determine whether the Drors are related and, if so, how.
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