Monday, November 08, 2004

Kibbutzcest, Part 1: Seret lo tov [UPDATED]

Molly and I just saw an Israeli film called "No Longer 17." The title of the film suggested a cast filled with strapping 18-year-old Israeli guys, but no such luck. The movie began promisingly enough, telling the story of a kibbutz that decided to kick out all members over 65 in order to save money, and thus save the less than financially sound kibbutz. But the elderly folks were also the ones who founded the kibbutz, not to mention the state of Israel itself, so they do not take well to being told to leave the premises. That all happens in the first minute or so--then comes the disasterous, near-incestuous romantic entanglements of the elderly kibbutzniks, each of whom seems to have had a child out of wedlock who, in turn, produced another out-of-wedlock child, in what appeared to be intervals of 15 years, such that the sexy 50-ish grandmother ought to have been the mother of the sullen 20-year-old, and yet a third woman was supposed to be the child of one and the mother of the other. Everyone had slept with everyone, and my brain does not do logic games well enough to figure out whether any actual incest was involved. (When Reuven was sleeping with Noa, who exactly was Reuven to Noa, given that Noa's mother was something of a kibbutz ho, whose boyfriend, an old man with massive eyebrows, has, in turn, had essentially two wives, the official one being the mother of Reuven's dead wife, whom he, Reuven, may or may not have killed? Confused yet?)

The thing that bothered me most about the movie--aside from the two obvious things, which were that I'd been hoping it would involve hot young Israeli men, and that all the "dialogue" consisted of each character providing a brief plot summary of the movie itself, things like "the kibbutz is kicking off the old people, and I'm not in love with my husband,"--was that the youngest character, a 20 year old girl whose name escapes me at the moment, arrives back in Israel after backbacking across India, and shows up with a hippie boyfriend, who appears briefly when the two accidentally walk in on this girl's grandmother (the aforementioned kibbutz ho) and quickly scramble out. When the girl returns, she's left the boyfriend on the stoop; he is never once mentioned, nor does he once again appear, for the rest of this long, long movie, and one could only guess that he's still, to this day, standing on that stoop. Since he was the closest the movie had to an attractive young man, I was especially sensitive to the illogical disappearance of his character from the film.

Have you ever been up really late and turned on PBS and watched some obscure movie that solved whatever problems with insomnia you may have had? Imagine such a movie, only much more so. This one dirt road on the kibbutz was shown about 500 times, to the point that I was as bored by the route across the kibbutz as I am by my own route to campus, which has been mostly unchanged for almost 3 years.

Since the (implied, never close to graphic) sexual escapades of the elderly kibbutzniks were yawn-enducing and predictable, the only real drama was when the spurned wife (played by a woman I only hope looks better in real life) attempts suicide. Of course her death would be far too interesting a twist, so she lives, leaving the only death scene in the movie to a man who looks about 95 who dies peacefully of old age on the back of a pickup truck.

My final word on the matter before going to sleep: Seret lo tov.


Molly's "Part II" is now up.


Anonymous said...

I thought Open Marriage really was a feature of early kibbutz life. Comic relief from the grunt work. Kind of like "The Mamas and the Papas".

Molly said...

there was another sort of hot guy in it for like three seconds when they were setting up the protest tent at the beginning. However, since most of the film was sort of out of focus it was a little hard to tell.

open marriages may be one of the "perks" of kibbutz life, but this film made it out like it was a big deal, not just another day on the kibbutz. The wife that is being cheated on is chewed out at one point by Bracha The Bitch (the Other Woman) because she has "made the choice to not love" etc. so maybe yeah, they share everything.