Joe + Belle is primarily the work of Kedar, who co-wrote and directed the picture (her feature debut) in addition to starring. Sadly, although she gives a decent performance and there are fleeting moments of sexual electricity between herself and Levy, the screenplay is a murky, coincidental mess. Supporting characters exist to pad out screen time, dramatic momentum is frequently undercut for poor comedy, and large patches of story and character motivation are entirely unclear, including the film's ending.
The film's biggest problem is Belle, who is one of those agonizing characters frequently described in press materials as an "unpredictable free spirit" or some such nonsense. In terms of Joe + Belle, "unpredictable free spirit" translates to a character relied on to do whatever random thing is necessary to advance the story, like randomly breaking into a bathroom to lie in the tub, shooting people, whacking a cop with a telephone, etc. She has no apparent motivation for these actions; the viewer is just supposed to accept that she's a rebel, and also to find her recklessness endearing and fun. Since we are never told anything about who she is beyond her spontaneity, it plays as grating instead. As far as being a lesbian romance, Belle also manages to (if I understand the movie correctly) pull out some sort of subconscious lesbian attraction in Joe. Before they meet, she talks about boyfriends and initially resists Belle's advances, which all seems very strange. Kedar doesn't fill Joe in enough for the viewer to understand her emotional journey from what seems like a straight woman to head-over-heels in lesbian love.
In general, it would help if the characters reacted to Belle in a rational way, but Joe, in attraction and otherwise, and the supporting characters in the movie are pretty demure about this girl butting into their lives and turning everything upside down, kicking things off by killing a stranger in Joe's apartment. One character, Abigail (Romi Aboulafia) is supposedly deeply in love with Belle's victim, but after learning that the girls are responsible for his death, they head to a party together, with another 30 minutes passing before she decides that some sort of revenge is in order. Meanwhile, a lazy police officer is sort of involved, with Abigail and the hunt for the girls, but has enough free time in his fast-paced investigation to play Rock Band with Abigail.
The Israeli backdrop is one of the movie's few interesting aspects, but (despite constant radio chatter that Belle enjoys listening to), she doesn't really explain the situation with enough clarity for it to impact the audience. There's never a sense of how dangerous Joe and Belle's journey is, or what their goal is in heading for the border. After an awkward open-mic night climax (really), the film signs off with a baffling epilogue visible underneath the end credits that suggests a really extreme conclusion. All things considered, there are certainly parts of Kedar's efforts that are respectable, but Joe + Belle is a messy movie that never settles on what it wants to be.
The Video and Audio
Hebrew Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is nothing special, but compared to the picture it seems amazing. Surround channels are reasonably active with ambience and music, dialogue is clean and crisp. This isn't going to test anyone's speaker system, but it's fine. A Hebrew 2.0 track is also included.
A PSA about piracy and a trailer for Tomboy play when the disc is put into the player, and additional trailers for The Guest House, Kiss Me, Leading Ladies, A Marine Story, and Trigger are accessible from the extras menu. An original trailer for Joe + Belle is also included, which is also much more accurate than the feature films in terms of black levels.