Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi is one of those films that brings a smile to your face and warmth to your heart with very little effort - a charming, engaging coming of age dramedy, this Israeli import, directed by Shemi Zarhin, is a low-key gem that may sneak up on unsuspecting viewers. It's a film that, if created in the United States, would probably star some brainless TV chicklet and a host of plastic up-and-comers. Thankfully, such is not the case here.
Shlomi (Oshri Cohen), a precocious 16-year-old spends his days worrying about the troubles of others. He lives at home with his iron-fisted mother (Esti Zakhaim), his bratty brother (Yonatan Rozen) and his ailing grandfather (Arie Ellias). Shlomi's father, cast out of the house after cheating on his wife with one of her friends, is a non-presence; Shlomi struggles in school but not due to his father's absence - rather Shlomi strives to solve as many of his mildly dysfunctional family's problems as he can. Add to his Dr. Phil tendencies his skill in the kitchen and ease at handling household chores and the dilemma becomes obvious when a new principal at Shlomi's school discovers the teenager is actually something of a genius and tries to place him in a more difficult learning environment.
Shlomi, under pressure, chooses instead to focus on his family and the burgeoning romance shared with the oh-so-attractive girl next door, Rona (Aya Koren). Soon, Shlomi is forced to choose between the way things have always been and the way they could be.
Zarhin's film breezes along, coasting mainly on charm and the charisma of its cast - while Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi doesn't break any new ground or offer any shocking surprises, it is competent and entertaining enough to be a pleasant 90 minutes spent on some weekend evening.
Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi is offered in a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. The film has a digital appearance to it, which is likely the result of a PAL-to-NTSC transfer. Aside from the non-film look, there are scant defects that detract from the image.
Presented in its native Hebrew in Dolby 2.0 stereo, Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi boasts a perfectly adequate audio mix. Dialogue is clear and the score only occasionally sounds tinny. Optional English subtitles are included as well and are easy to read.
The only bonus material included is a handful of trailers for Swoon, Borstal Boy, Crush and The Cockettes.
Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi doesn't go for flash, instead electing to charm slowly and win over unsuspecting viewers with its quiet wit and charisma. An easy recommendation for a rental some Saturday night or perhaps even a blind buy for those fans of heartfelt foreign dramas. Recommended.