The Bubble
Strand Releasing // Unrated // $27.99 // February 12, 2008
Review by Daniel Siwek | posted April 13, 2008
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The Movie

The Bubble or Ha-Buah (Buah-Ha)is an interesting name, not just because it represents social life in the pop-cultural-dome that is Tel Aviv, but also because it reminds us how blissful yet fragile peace can be for the entire region. When you're living the hedonistic Mediterranean lifestyle, it's easy to inflate a carefree sense of calm, but the feeling could just as easily be popped, literally, at any moment. The latest from Israel's most famous director, Eytan Fox (Walk on Water and Yossi & Jagger, The Bubble was co-written by Gal Uchovsky and also deals with the gay struggle, only here it's added by and paralleled with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Noam (Ohad Knoller, who played Yossi and was also in Munich) is an army reservist who works in the city's hippest record store, The Third Ear (it's a real place). He isn't crazy about fulfilling his mandatory service to the military (his more rebellious friends have become "refusnicks") but still puts in his weekends at a checkpoint. He's growing tired of seeing the insensitive searches of young and old Palestinian men and women, but keeps his composure, even helping diffuse a situation between the suspicious guards and a woman going into labor. Ashraf (Yousef "Joe" Sweid) makes this commute from Nablus, and after making eye contact the two will later meet back in Tel Aviv. Religious and political issues aside, the two begin a passionate love affair. Noam can't let Ashraf go back to an oppressive Nablus, where he lives in the closet from his sister and her Jihad fighting fiancée, but he's also got no papers to legally stay in the city, so they decide to sneak and blend him into their cool progressive world. Helping Noam with the charade are his two roommates, the creative t-shirt designer, Lulu (Daniela Wircer) and café owner Yali (Alon Friedman), who gives Ashraf a job. But it's not that easy to escape reality, and despite their good intentions - the same kind that has them organizing a Rave For Peace" essentially a beach party for their bourgie friends - the culture clash is still inevitable - especially when your future brother-in-law's actual name is "Jihad." But Fox and Uchovsky remind us that even on the inside of the sexually liberated bubble, ethnicity and nationality are still an issue, as Ashraf continues to feel like an outsider.

When The Bubble isn't making the point of how the residents of White City (named for it's abundance of white Bauhaus-era architecture), live on the edge of lifestyle and warstyle, they're arguing about the old Bauhaus architecture that disorients and blocks the view of the sea, or they're listening to Belle & Sebastian, or cheering up a broken heart by pretending to be in a cheesy 80s video. In other words, they're trying to live life; which is everything that happens all around and in between checkpoints and suicide bombings. Israeli's have even more reason to go to the cinema for trivial escapism, and Eytan is no exception, playing to his playful gay audience. National hunk Lior Ashkenazi (who also starred in Walk on Water) has a cameo as himself when they go to a performance of Bent, and the film is dedicated to documenting the ultra-trendy Sheinkin Street scene, featuring some its boutiques, café's, bars, and clubs, to its local celebrities (the mayor even shows up). The Bubble isn't just a dour trip, but a youthful, vibrant, uh, bubbling microcosm.

Video: Presented in 1.78:1widescreen, the cinematography is casual enough to fit the Reality Bites-type segments and with well composed for the high-intensity scenes.

Sound: With a colorful soundtrack as well, The Bubble boasts some Dolby Digital production, making the club tracks bump and the after party tracks soothe. Nothing really happening on the Surround front.

Original US Theatrical Trailer
Original Israeli Theatrical Trailer
The Making of the Bubble
This featurette kicks-off with a host listing the shocking headlines from the movie. It gives you footage from the shoot, and a real taste of Sheinkin in between Alenby and Rothschild Avenues. We also learn that in order to expedite the filming permits, the director put the mayor in the movie. Also, the extras that have to pass the checkpoints had just gone through a checkpoint on the way to the set.

"The Man I Love" Music Video
Other Strand Titles There are trailers for Irina Palm, The Witnesses,The Man Of My Life, and Dark Blue Almost Black.

Final Thoughts:
As a filmmaker, Fox is not without his faults, I wasn't so impressed at the way his actors react to Ashraf as if he's the first Arab to make to a coffee shop, but his instincts are still entirely engaging - even when predictable. The film is much more than just a gay Romeo & Juliet set in the conflict-rife Middle East, it's a love poem to the city itself, it's an attempt to capture a real time and place - for posterity or for example?

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