one witnesses a film and really has no
idea what to expect from the experience. Viewing Jaffa
was one of those times for me. I am not familiar with the kind
of artistry found in film-making coming from Israel and was curious to
kind of story I would discover. Would it in the form of a fascinating
Or would it be the equivalent of any modern drama? What I was delighted
was that this particular work is a powerful and involving modern-day
Shakespearean qualities. Jaffa shouldn't
be labeled as a tragedy, and yet it most certainly is one. It creates
combination of being hopeful and strangely pessimistic at the same
story takes place in Jaffa (as the title suggests).
This area in Israel creates a community inhabited by both Jews and
Arabs. There is clear unrest and this is
important aspect and reflection found within the film's central story.
the characters are in love with one another without the knowledge being
with those surrounding them in their daily lives. Mali (the beautiful
Ivgy) is a daughter to Reuven (Moni Moshonov), who runs a family
garage that fixes cars, and Toufik (Mahmud Shalaby), is a Palestinian
at the garage. Mali and Toufik are those lovers - and it is clear they
have a special
bond, one which can be found with unspoken words and the actor's
is trouble brewing for the times ahead. Mali's
brother Meir (Ro'I Asaf) is an emotionally unbalanced and unhappy young
seems unsatisfied with his life. This emotion comes out in
realistic scenes with the entire family dynamic, which includes the
Osnat (Ronit Elkabetz), who eventually breaks out in anger at Meir and
that he leave. Meir returns the next day for work and is in an even
than he was before. His anger seems to pour out of him. And, sadly,
happens to change the course of the story for all of the characters
hesitate to delve further as this is the kind of
story that should be experienced without knowing more about the events
transpire. I wouldn't want to spoil the ending either. I am willing to
admit it does not arrive at an easy destination. What I truly want to
this film is how original the artistic voice of writer/director Keren
is. I was blown away by how strong the performances were (a large
her direction) and both the screenplay and direction give the film a
documentary-feel, in that Jaffa creates
a sense of realism and somehow also manages to be a beautifully framed
art. The camera is used as necessary and Yedaya knows when to simply
let it sit
still and have the actors define their roles. That ability alone should
more than 1,000 overblown Hollywood productions (is that a currency?).
is also perfectly appropriate: at times lush, and more often murky --
with a sense of sadness that helps to reflect the mood established
within the frame.
The musical score by Sushan is
beautiful and almost moved me to tears with its wonderful orchestral
powerful vocals. If editing was always as good as it is in Jaffa
film-making would also be better off too. Editor Assaf Korman
seems to know exactly how to create an appropriate editorial pace to
and when to let a scene end and that should be viewed as praise to his
Jaffa is presented in the original
1:85:1 aspect ratio with an anamorphic presentation. The results are
notably pleasing. Colors appear to be muted with an often brown
undertone that captures the essence of the cinematography.
The transfer appears to be free of dirt, nicks, or any other
The audio is not quite as impressive - though is certainly
succeeds in getting the job done. The 2.0 soundtrack is clean and crisp
5.1 mix would have been preferable for my viewing. The score by Sushan
well reproduced. English subtitles are included.
is included: Lost Paradise, from
directors Mihal Brezis and Oded Binnun.
It also features a story with political undertones and a
However, I personally did not find it anywhere near as compelling. This
have been in part due to the shorter length being unable to properly
all of the thoughts the film-makers wanted to convey.
for other Film Movement releases and short
biographies covering those individuals involved in making Jaffa
are also included as extras.
This was one of my first experiences with Israeli
cinema. I was thoroughly engrossed and pleased with this cinematic treasure,
would highly recommend it to any film fan who appreciates what foreign
has to offer. The story is one that can be universally understood by
choose to view Jaffa, and it is both
powerful and resonant. Directed by Keren
Yedaya (Or), this is an overlooked
and under-appreciated gem.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.