A love story between two 13-year-old Israeli school kids, “Saint Clara” is high on originality and has enough aggressive energy and loud music to win over teen auds. Offshore, pic is worth a look for young-people’s fests.
Thanks to the ESP of a new student, pretty Russian girl Clara (Lucy Dubnichek), a whole class gets perfect scores on their math exam. While the eccentric teacher and principal scream and search for the cheat, class rebels Tikel and Rosenthal plot to use Clara’s powers to foment a school revolution. Clara predicts there will be an earthquake, and the townsfolk flee, leaving her and Tikel (Halil Elohev) alone to hold hands at the movies.
Characters are finely individualized and convincing in their rebellious impulses. Clara’s Russian immigrant family is no weirder than Tikel’s spacey mom and dad. While teachers and parents are comically grotesque, tyro co-directors Uri Sivan and Ari Fulman view the kids with sympathy and humor, sans sentimentality.
Pic doesn’t have a lot of specificity to Israel; setting could be a bleakly sterile modern town anywhere. Valentin Blonovok’s camerawork abets the film’s surreal aspirations with startling, eye-catching colors.