Wolfe Video is a producer and distributor for gay and lesbian motion pictures, and they seem to be poised to corner their market. Unfortunately, some of their more prominent releases like Girl Play, Adored: Diary of a Porn Star, and Producing Adults have received some less than glorious review scores. One of their newest releases, Round Trip, follows suit with the previously mentioned titles and is very hit or miss, depending on the viewer.
I do have to admit that my experience with gay and lesbian films is rather limited, so when I approached Round Trip, I did so on terms to grade it purely on its entertainment value. Going into the movie, I was interested mainly because it was an Israeli motion picture, not because it was a story about lesbians. I've sat down to watch many foreign films before, but never one produced in Israel, or presented in Hebrew.
The story starts out in the northern town of Qiryat Shmona, but later moves to the well known metropolis, Tel Aviv. We get glimpses of the culture that is ripped from today's headlines, where air raid sirens blare, and busses blow up. We only hear about the explosions and such, but never actually witness an event like that. Those happenings are just a cultural backdrop for the love story that Round Trip tries to tell, but it's interesting to see how people discuss such things so casually.
The story focuses on a woman named Nurit, who is trapped in a marriage she doesn't want any part of. Her husband is out of work and she is forced to do overtime to pay the bills, so that seems to be a big part of the frustration. Otherwise though, her husband, Yossi, seems to be a decent guy and a good father to their two children, Zohar and Hila. One day Nurit decides that she doesn't want to put up with him anymore though so she packs up her things and drags the kids to Tel Aviv.
They wind up slumming it in a ghetto apartment and she finds a job as a bus driver, since it's really the only thing she's good at. Once they get settled in, things seem like they are going decently, though Nurit has a difficult time coming up with the rent money. After a couple of months she decides to advertise for a roommate to help pay the bills. That's when Mushidi comes knocking on the door and walking into Nurit's life.
Mushidi is an illegal immigrant from Nigeria who doesn't speak Hebrew all that well, but is willing to help clean and pay the rent. The children take a while to warm up to her, and the film touches upon some racial elements involving the differences they have. After a while though, the two mothers become friends and Mushidi eventually puts the moves on Nurit. At first she's a little reluctant to accept, but then warms up to the idea and falls in love with the Nigerian native. I won't spoil what happens after all of this happens, but let's just say that Round Trip doesn't have a very happy ending.
Actually, the film doesn't have a very happy beginning or middle either. As I was watching the movie I found myself getting more and more depressed, despite the supposed happiness of Nurit and Mushidi. I couldn't find myself connecting with any of the characters, and was actually to the point of not liking Nurit for much of the film. She's very self centered, crabby, and doesn't seem to be a very good mother. I understand that she's going through a deep personal change, but unless you've gone through the same thing you won't be able to appreciate it.
The movie never really has a sense of humor or any form of an upbeat tone to help break the depressing mood that it sets. I felt that Nurit and Mushidi's relationship was a little forced and that as a whole, the plot was very contrived. Characters have hardly any motivation for their actions and rarely express any emotion aside from annoyance. In the end, Round Trip will be appreciated mostly by Wolfe's fan base, but will be lost on just about everyone else.
Round Trip is presented with a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer and has some relatively poor image value. The picture is VHS quality at best with a lot of grain, speckle, edge enhancement and an overall soft appearance. There are a couple moments of decent quality, but those are definitely few and far between. Colors remain solid and the contrast is decent though sometimes the image comes across as being slightly saturated.
The film is presented in its original Hebrew 2.0 with English subtitles fused onto the image, though once Mushidi comes around, some English is spoken. Obviously with stereo audio, there is very little directionality for the soundtrack. The quality ping-pongs between decent to muffled, and sometimes sounds like it's coming from a tin can. There is also a faint hiss in the background that is noticeable if you're listening for it, but not completely overbearing.
The disc only offers some previews and trailers for some of Wolfe Video's other products. Some commentary could have been interesting, or even interviews with the cast, but nothing like that is available here.
I tried to get into Round Trip, but I had a very difficult time doing so. Nurit's character isn't very likable, and yes, she's going through a lifestyle change, but I felt an immediate disconnect with her. The story here isn't very heartwarming or happy, and is mostly reserved for fans of Wolfe Video's productions other films. The DVD doesn't score very high marks either due to some poor video and audio quality, as well as a distinct lack of extras. Skip It