Broken Wings

This poignant film about an Israeli family rendered dysfunction by the sudden death of the husband and father is a strongly emotional experience. Without any mention whatsoever of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, the film nonetheless resonates with feelings of oppression and dislocation that living in a virtual war zone generate. Writer-director Nir Bergman’s feature debut effectively enters the world of a once close-knit Haifa family which has suffered a body blow. The widow Dafna (Orli Zilberschatz-Banai) is 43 years old and a mess. Not only is she still deeply grieving nine months after her husband died, but there are money problems. So she works as a midwife in a hospital, taking whatever shifts she is given. As a result, it often falls on her eldest child, 17-year-old Maya (Maya Maron) to act as surrogate mother to her youngest siblings, 11-year-old Ido (Daniel Magon) and 6-year-old Bahr (Eliana Magon).
Bergman is very good at observing the minor details of everyday life which assume far greater significance because of the strain on the family. When Maya forgets to pick up little Bahr from school, it’s an incident which carries with it major ramifications. When, finally, the circumstance of the husband’s death-and the reason Maya blames herself for it-are made clear, the characters can all be seen in a new light. Filmed on location in Haifi and Tel Aviv, Broken Wings portrays an Israel that’s very different from the images the world sees on the nightly news. The cities and streets, hospitals, schools and apartments we see could be anywhere in the world, and yet the knowledge of the reality of what life in Israel today must be like pervades the film with an ominous feeling of oppression.
(Israel, 2003. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo. 87 mins.)

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