Group Portrait with Woman

Soulful, well acted docudrama, set in the 1970s and today, mixes elements skillfully, but without quite coming up with insights it's searching for. Both the subject and a fine thesp portraying her share screen time in "Group Portrait with Woman," a plea for understanding in religion-bound Israel, where mixed marriages are still treated with fear.

With:
With: Michal Yanai, Natur Halifa, Sharon Alexander, Rusina Kambus, Alex Monte, Lupo Berkowitz, Traici Abramowitz.

Soulful, well acted docudrama, set in the 1970s and today, mixes elements skillfully, but without quite coming up with insights it’s searching for. Both the subject and a fine thesp portraying her share screen time in “Group Portrait with Woman,” a plea for understanding in religion-bound Israel, where mixed marriages are still treated with fear. Pic is perhaps more useful at docu fests, for pic-makers looking to push non-fiction edges, than on ordinary circuits.

Michal Yanai is superb as Irit, a pretty, blonde Haifa woman who makes the tactical mistake of falling in love with a handsome Bedouin man (Natur Halifa). The fact that he is in the Israeli army and rejected by Arabs cuts no ice with her Ashkenazi parents, but she marries him anyway. It’s when she gets pregnant that things unravel. Social pressures force her to give up the child; hubby cracks up; and Irit drifts into meaningless, self-destructive affairs with an older merchant and a musician. Throughout, the real woman participates in fiery discussions with present-day Israelis, but the revelation — along with material showing her rather sad lifestyle — isn’t very heartening.

Group Portrait with Woman

Israel

Production: A Haifa Arts production, with support from the Cinema Project, IBA and the New Israeli Foundation for Cinema and TV. Produced, directed, written by Itzhak Rubin.

Crew: Camera (color), Benny Shoklander; editors, Rubin, Victor Turkia; music, Doron Orsanio, Avner Gavrieli; production designer, Tzala Rubin; costume designer, Rokefel Bahir; sound (Dolby), John Purcell. Reviewed at Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, May 10, 2004. Original title: Tmuna Kvutatit Im Isha. Hebrew, Arabic, French and English dialogue. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Michal Yanai, Natur Halifa, Sharon Alexander, Rusina Kambus, Alex Monte, Lupo Berkowitz, Traici Abramowitz.

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