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Broken Wings

The release parade of foreign films submitted for the Oscars but rejected by the Academy continues with Broken Wings, a tense family drama from Israel written and directed by Nir Bergman (Sea Horses, One Perfect Rose). Bergman is able to sustain a serious, melancholy tone for the duration of the film without turning the proceeds into melodrama. The film centers on the Ulman family, still reeling from the death of their father nine months ago. His absence has left everybody in a daze. The family dynamic is gone, and everything is slowly heading towards a confrontation. Each person is dealing with the death in a different manner. Maya (Maya Maron, Sea Horses, Saint Clara) is in a band and wrote a touching song about what she wanted to say to her father. It's good enough to have a shot at winning a local battle of the bands, until her mother Dafna (Orly Silbersatz Banai, Saint Clara, Song of the Siren) forces Maya to leave the competition to baby sit her siblings.

Dafna is a midwife at the local hospital, and works nights. Most likely, they cannot afford a babysitter. Maya's older brother Yair (Nitai Gaviratz) dropped out of school and has low-paying job. He is often out of the house, and frequently unreliable for most things (like babysitting). Instead of going through the grieving process together, each member went through it separately, which is the root cause of the problem. Their younger brother Ido (Daniel Magon) goes to an empty pool and films himself jumping into it, and Bahr (Eliana Magon), the youngest just wants her mom to be around when she goes to school.

Within the first ten minutes, Bergman makes it clear that things are tense between Dafna and Maya. Maya is aware of the responsibilities she has for the family, but feels that there is no balance between those and her desires for a personal life. Dafna feels that Maya needs to do more for the family, and Maya is at the age where rebellion is inherent. It is a powderkeg that explodes when the Ulmans go through another tragedy. The film seems remarkably depressing, and to a degree, it is. Bergman makes it watchable by coaxing strong performances out of Maron and Banai. Especially given the material, which isn't that original. He does throw in the small comedic touches every once in a while to lighten up the mood, and it helps greatly.

Both actors portray women who are on the verge of losing it. They love each other but have a hard time expressing it. Dafna is trying to deal with everything by ignoring things. Hopefully, things will get better on their own. Maya wants to do something, but doesn't know what to do. Maron expresses this uncertainty wonderfully; it wracks her emotionally. She feels guilty about pursuing her own interests, yet her responsibilities bear down upon her and depress her. Maron and Banai are able to express their emotions without going over the edge, and they are able to maintain this for the duration of Broken Wings.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 27 minutes, Hebrew with English subtitles, Rated R for some language, brief nudity, and drug use.

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