In the mid-1960s, two young Polish brothers involved in an anti-Semitic crime receive a rude awakening when they learn they are actually Jewish and their mother is moving them to Israel.
The tale unfolds from the p.o.v. of 10-year-old Tadek (Jakub Wroblewski), who is growing up streetwise, Catholic and casually anti-Semitic, with no father. Along with his 14-year-old brother, Andrzej (Lukasz Sikora), he gravitates toward a neo-Nazi street gang that beats up Jews for fun.
Their feckless mother, Halina (Aleksandra Poplawska), a secret Holocaust survivor given to trading on her good looks, tells a pack of lies to get the boys released from a police station, but can’t quite bring herself to reveal the truth of their origins. She eventually delegates this task to Andrzej, while telling Tadek that they are moving to Australia, a country that he fetishizes.
About 30 minutes in, the family arrives in Haifa, Israel. Unable to find paying work, Halina decides to dump the boys at a kibbutz, which is where culture shock really sets in.
Placed in a children’s house where boys and girls shower together, uncircumcised Tadek refuses to participate. Although it takes him a while to get the hang of life in the collective, and he is shocked to hear the history of an older Polish Holocaust survivor, the bright, outgoing youth eventually settles in, nevertheless maintaining a little bunker with a picture of Jesus and Mary where he goes to pray when stressed. Alienated Andrzej, meanwhile, displays antisocial behavior.
The depiction of the brothers’ difficult adjustment to their new life, religion and home reps the most interesting part of Drozd’s screenplay. Unfortunately, the last reel of the pic becomes an overextended account of Tadek’s decision to become circumcised.
Drozd’s helming style seems a tad stiff (he’s best known as an editor), and most of the thesping feels better suited to the smallscreen. No matter, angel-faced Wroblewski makes Tadek’s energy and outrage palpable throughout.
Low-budget looking production values leave a lot to be desired. On digital projection caught at the Jerusalem fest, the color values looked muddy and images less than crisp(a 35mm print is also supposed to be available). Treacly score is overused.