Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yossi and Jagger II

Eytan Fox's latest movie, "The Bubble," in a sense picks up where "Yossi and Jagger" left off. The potentially hunky Ohad Knoller, whose name is now Noam, not Yossi, has taken Jagger's final message to heart, and is living a happy and gay life in Tel Aviv, but has not fully abandoned the military career he for some reason cherished.

Much of the conflict in the movie comes from a dilemma over how to be a good liberal. Freedom for gays is good, but looking down on Palestinians for making life impossible for gays in their society is, well, anti-Palestinian. How can you be culturally sensitive while imposing progressive values not shared across all cultures? By the end of the movie, the answer to whether you can have it both ways is beyond obvious. Also beyond obvious: a character active in Hamas is named Jihad.

In this movie, Israelis are basically Americans. We never meet Israeli characters who are not white and carefree. To judge this movie by its own standard of leftiness, where was the internal Jewish-Israeli race and class conflict? We do leave 'the Bubble' (the pseudobohemian yuppie crowd of Tel Aviv, looking far more Upper East Side than I remember from visiting that city) long enough to learn that the Arabs, on the other hand, are poor and oppressed. There's this strange underlying theme of how the Palestinian family in the movie, relatives of Noam's boyfriend Ashraf, is partly in Jordan, an Arab state where things are better. If there were another Jewish state somewhere, in or out of the Middle East, where things were that much calmer, which of the movie's Jewish characters would have chosen to stick with life in Israel?

As in "Yossi and Jagger," women and and the accompanying heterosexual encounters in "The Bubble" are, how to put this... silly. In "Yossi," Goldie was a skank and Yaeli would not have sex unless she was a) in love and b) surrounded by candles, music, and Champagne. Realistic, because women do in fact come in these two varieties. In "The Bubble," Lulu's big complaint is that men always abandon her after sex. The happy end to Lulu's story comes when an acquaintance with whom she's exchanged barely more than the occasional smile announces he would like to marry her and have children with her. Such a pronouncement might sound like a pickup like only Borat would use, but it gets the girl.

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