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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Yana's Friends
Yana's Friends
First Run Features // Unrated // February 25, 2003
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted March 5, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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Movie: This is one of those movies that has won a bunch of awards from a host of film festivals-including one in my hometown of Houston, TX-and 10 Israeli Academy Awards but I hadn't heard much about it until recently. It is actually two stories that intertwine into one well thought out feature concerning the dilemma of some immigrants in Israel. That sounds pretty dry, huh? Okay, it's also a love story about a young pregnant lady, Yana (played by the director's real life wife), who is abandoned in Israel by her husband just before Saddam Hussein's SCUD attacks during the 1991 Gulf War. While there is definitely a little bit of a war message here, the central theme has little to do with that. The other major thread here dealt with a family and their crippled grandfather. Amazingly enough, the bits involving them are hilarious on a couple of levels and must be watched to be appreciated.

Picture: The picture was presented in full frame format with mostly color and a bit of B&W from time to time. The picture was fair with some minor artifacts and an okay transfer but the movie pulls you in so that you probably won't notice it after awhile. There were hard subtitles in English but they were easy to read.

Sound: The audio was in 2.0 stereo in Russian and Hebrew. It could've been recorded in mono since there really wasn't much need for additional channels here. It was clear enough to make things out and some attention was obviously paid by the director (it was his first feature film).

Extras: There was a three page director's interview which discussed his immigrant roots and how he could keep it real since he lived a similar life and how parts were autobiographical to he and his wife. There was a short director's biography and 5 trailers. Lastly, there was a paper catalog included in the dvd case.

Final Thoughts: I liked this movie enough to overlook the 9 critic's quotes on the dvd case and mentions of all the awards it won. The acting was very good and the story very appropriate considering the current impending war in the Gulf with Iraq. I tend to enjoy quirky foreign films but having been bitten more than once by hype (from people that couldn't possibly have watched the movie's they fawn over), I tend to be a little shy when it comes to choosing such movies too. This was a case where the director, Arik Kaplan, really cared about the subject matter and must've had firsthand experience with it to make it this true to life. There were some adult themes and nudity if that matters. A keeper!

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