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Aviva My Love

In Tiberius, a town in northern Israel on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus is said to have walked on water, the eponymous heroine of "Aviva My Love" is barely staying afloat. Involving pic gleaned six top Israeli Academy Awards, took the screenwriting nod in Chicago and is excellent fest fare.

Cast:
With: Asi Levi, Rotem Abuhav, Levana Finkelstein, Dror Keren, Sason Gabai, Natan Ravich, Dana Ivgi, Itay Turgeman, Reuven Dayan, Zion Baruch, Dekel Adin, Albert Iluz.

In Tiberius, a town in northern Israel on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus is said to have walked on water, the eponymous heroine of “Aviva My Love” is barely staying afloat. Her husband’s unemployed, her children are sullen and combative, her exasperating mother is suicidal, her job as a cook in a hotel kitchen is demanding, and all she really wants to do is devote herself to her creative writing, furtively scribbling in between never-ending obligations. Involving pic gleaned six top Israeli Academy Awards, took the screenwriting nod in Chicago and is excellent fest fare.

Aviva Cohen (Asi Levi, in a splendid perf) needs money to pay the dentist. He suggests she expose herself in exchange. Proud, hard-working Aviva’s daily routine is composed of such indignities big and small.

Her sulking daughter Oshrat (Dana Ivgi) is on leave from the military. Her handsome oldest son Alon (Itay Turgeman) is anti-social but parades around half-dressed. Her youngest son compulsively communes with electronic devices rather than with his family.

Hubby Moni (Dror Keren) has been laid off from his job at a garage, in favor of cheaper immigrant labor. And Aviva’s loony mom (Levana Finkelstein) has jovially threatened to kill herself so often, nobody takes her seriously.

Only Aviva’s attractive sister Anita (excellent Rotem Abuhav) is relatively upbeat, but her husband wants to move someplace less oppressive.

When Anita introduces Aviva to famous writer Oded Zar (Sason Gabai), she’s elated. Oded, who hasn’t published for a while, pretends to tutor the talented but unsophisticated Aviva. But what he really wants to do is appropriate her stories and sell them under his own name.

While exploring Aviva’s struggle to support her family without selling her soul, scripter/helmer Shemi Zarhin (“Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi”) makes the molasses-like quality of the locale’s blazingly hot air evident in every shot. Incident-packed tale is marbled with black humor but Israeli gumption triumphs by default. Purely social drama explores sexual politics but leaves more conventional politics out of the mix.

Aviva My Love

Israel

Production: A United King Films, Metro Communications, Evanstone Films presentation of an Eitan Evan production. (International sales: Evanstone Films, Tel Aviv.) Produced by Eitan Evan. Executive producers, Moshe Edri, Leon Edri. Co-producers, David Silber, Micky Rabinovitz. Directed, written by Shemi Zarhin.

Crew: Camera (color),Itzik Portal; editor, Einat Glaser Zarhin; music, Yonathan Bar-Giora; art director, Ido Dolev; costume designer, Inbal Shuki; sound (Dolby), Aviv Aldema, Ashi Milo; assistant director, Yochanan Kredo; casting, Esther King. Reviewed at Chicago Film Festival (competing), Oct. 15, 2006. Running time: 107 MIN.

With: With: Asi Levi, Rotem Abuhav, Levana Finkelstein, Dror Keren, Sason Gabai, Natan Ravich, Dana Ivgi, Itay Turgeman, Reuven Dayan, Zion Baruch, Dekel Adin, Albert Iluz.

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