×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jaffa

A stylistically risky departure for helmer Keren Yedaya that reps a disappointing follow-up to her Camera d'Or winner "Or (My Treasure)."

With:
With: Dana Ivgy, Moni Moshonov, Ronit Elkabetz, Mahmoud Shalaby, Roy Assaf, Hussein Yassin Mahajneh, Lily Ivgy, Zenabh Mahrab, Suma Zenabh, Dalya Beger.

The clandestine love between a young Jewish woman and an Arab mechanic is interrupted by tragedy in “Jaffa,” a stylistically risky departure for helmer Keren Yedaya that reps a disappointing follow-up to her Camera d’Or winner “Or (My Treasure).” Where the earlier pic was all raw energy and unprocessed emotion, “Jaffa” is modeled on semi-glossy Egyptian mellers, but Yedaya lets the air out, leaving empty characters with no connections to each other or the audience. Best seen as a temporary blip in a promising career, pic will likely be given a respectful distance by most fests.

Yedaya brings her two leads, Dana Ivgy and Ronit Elkabetz, together again as mother and daughter, though the dynamic is entirely different. Mali (Ivgy) is the colorless daughter of garage owner Reuven Wolf (Moni Moshonov) and his shallow wife Osnat (Elkabetz). Brother Meir (Roy Assaf), a young man full of rage, is the family’s black sheep and whipping boy.

Mali is in love with (and secretly pregnant by) Tawfik (Mahmoud Shalaby), an Arab working alongside his father Hassan (Hussein Yassin Mahajneh, in a basic Uncle Tom role) in Reuven’s garage. Since they’re good workers, the boss offers them respect, though not so much that he’d ever approve of his daughter’s relationship with an Arab. Meir, keen to exert any kind of power, is more open about his prejudices, and a heated fistfight with Tawfik ends in Meir’s accidental death.

Mali ends the affair but has the baby, telling her parents the father is a married man best forgotten. Despite the outward show of grief, peace reigns in the Wolf household until, nine years later, Tawfik gets out of the slammer, ignorant of the existence of his daughter, Shiran (Lily Ivgy).

Yedaya’s debt to Egyptian melodrama is even noted in the credits, but her reworking of the form is miscalculated, dampening down the excesses. While the lighting, zoom shots (lensed by versatile d.p. Pierre Aim) and even the opening credits sequence scream “meller,” the spirit just isn’t there; Yedaya may have a Sirkian desire to offer pointed critiques on the unresolved prejudices deep within Israeli society, but her choice of retooling just doesn’t work. Larger-than-life figures are absent, and the lead character, Mali, has nothing inside; it’s hard to believe in Tawfik’s love when his lover is such a blank.

This is partly deliberate: Mali has eliminated her personality in the wake of her parents’ exclusive, demanding love for each other, but in doing so the character, through no fault of Ivgy’s, is rendered dull-witted and distressingly acquiescent. The family’s inability to communicate comes through loud and clear, but nothing ever gets under the viewer’s skin.

Jaffa was chosen as both title and location for its almost unique position as a city — now a dependent of Tel Aviv — where Jews and Arabs live side-by-side in an uneasy, just-tolerated alliance. While this is hinted at in the backgrounds of several shots, the physical nature of the place is rarely felt. Shushan’s music fits the source of influence, but the tunes are under-used, pointing to a tasteful hesitation that may be “Jaffa’s” biggest miscalculation.

Popular on Variety

Jaffa

France-Israel-Germany

Production: A Bizibi (France)/Transfax Film Production (Israel)/Rohfilm (Germany)/Arte France Cinema (France) production, in association with Rezo World Sales and the participation of Canal Plus, Hot, Keshet Broadcasting. (International sales: Rezo Films, Paris.) Produced by Jerome Bleitrach, Emmanuel Agnery, Marek Rozenbaum, Benny Drechsel, Karsten Stoter. Directed by Keren Yedaya. Screenplay, Yedaya, in collaboration with Illa Ben Porat.

Crew: Camera (color), Pierre Aim; editor, Assaf Korman; music, Shushan; production designer, Avi Fahima; costume designer, Lee Alembik; sound (Dolby SRD), Jorg Theil, Michael Kaczmarek, Dominique Delguste; assistant director, Shir Shoshani; casting, Mira Shoval, Suma Zenabh. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (noncompeting), May 16, 2009. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: With: Dana Ivgy, Moni Moshonov, Ronit Elkabetz, Mahmoud Shalaby, Roy Assaf, Hussein Yassin Mahajneh, Lily Ivgy, Zenabh Mahrab, Suma Zenabh, Dalya Beger.

More Film

  • A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

    Film Review: 'A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon'

    No asteroids are hurtling toward Earth in “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon,” though a flying frozen pizza does softly slice the top off an elderly shopper’s hairdo: That’s roughly the level of quirky peril we’re talking about in the latest outing from Aardman Animations, and as usual, the British stop-motion masters cheerfully prove that [...]

  • Slam

    Film Review: ‘Slam’

    The disappearance of a fearless female Palestinian-Australian slam poet triggers suspense and powerful social and political commentary in “Slam,” an outstanding slow-burn thriller by expat Indian filmmaker Partho Sen-Gupta (“Sunrise”). Starring Palestinian actor Adam Bakri (“Omar,” “Official Secrets”) as the missing woman’s conflicted brother, and leading Aussie performer Rachael Blake as a troubled cop, Opening [...]

  • Igo Kantor

    Igo Kantor, Producer and Post-Production Executive, Dies at 89

    Igo Kantor, whose Hollywood career took him from Howard Hughes’ projection room to supervising post-production on “Easy Rider” and producing B-movies like “Kingdom of the Spiders” and “Mutant,” died Oct. 15. He was 89. Kantor, who was born in Vienna and raised in Lisbon, met “Dillinger” director Max Nosseck on the ship to New York. [...]

  • The Lion King

    Average Movie Ticket Price Falls 4% in Third Quarter of 2019

    Average ticket prices for the third quarter have dropped 4% to $8.93, down from Q2’s $9.26, the National Association of Theatre Owners announced today. However, compared with the third quarter of 2018, ticket price has risen 1.1% from $8.83. The summer box office is down 2.13% from 2018, though the third quarter box office is [...]

  • Tilda Swinton to Preside Over The

    Tilda Swinton to Preside Over Marrakech Film Festival

    Tilda Swinton, the iconoclastic British actress and producer, is set to preside over the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, succeeding to American director James Gray. Swinton, who won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for best supporting actress for “Michael Clayton,” has been leading an eclectic acting career. She has collaborated with [...]

  • The King Netflix

    Middleburg Film Festival Brings Hollywood to Virginia

    For the last seven years, audiences have flocked to the Middleburg Film Festival. Running October 17th – 21st, and situated in the wine-country hills of historic Middleburg, Virg., the festival usually highlights some of the year’s buzziest titles, and 2019 is no exception. “We’re a smaller festival with fewer overall screenings than other events, so we [...]

  • Kelly McCormick and David Leitch'Fast &

    'Wheelman' Director to Helm 'Versus' From David Leitch, Kelly McCormick (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Wheelman” director Jeremy Rush is in negotiations to helm the action movie “Versus,” with Kelly McCormick and David Leitch producing. Rush will direct the Universal movie from a script penned by “Three Musketeers” scribe Alex Litvak and “American Assassin” writer Mike Finch. Plot details are being kept under wraps, though it will follow the genre [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content