Sunday, September 07, 2008

[Israel Film Festival] Campfire (Medurat Hashevet)

Campfire (Medurat Hasevet) marks the last film for me during the Israel Film Festival, and personally, I thought this film was the most mature of the lot, being honest in exploring the lives and relationships in all members of a single parent family. Being all women in the house, recently widowed Rachel Gerlik (Michaela Eshet) takes great pains in order to protect her daughters Esti (Maya Maron) and Tami (Hani Furstenberg) from growing pains, and it is in the characters that we see an observation of romance in three forms.

For Rachel, it is a second chance at real romance. She admits to her daughters that she has never been in love, not even with their father, and opportunity comes in the form of Yossi (Moshe Ivgy) the bus driver, who's attentive and sincere, and while having his own awkward moments at professing his love, you're likely to root for him to get his girl. Rachel though has her hands full, in juggling a fight to be accepted by her community in order to relocate to the new West Bank settlement to start life afresh, now made complicated by a potential love, and in trying to reconnect with her daughters.

In elder daughter Esti, we see budding puppy love, as well as her very distinct opposition with her mom, stemming from Rachel's refusal to provide her with some privacy at home. I guess every parent will have to face their kids at this point in their teenage lives, and hopefully live to tell the tale of triumphant tolerance in the face of constant cynicism. And lastly, probably the saddest of the lot, with Tami and her brush with one ugly emotion of Lust. The English title at least, refers to a pivotal moment in the story which involves around the Bonfire incident, and you can't help but seethe with rage, where writer-director Joseph Cedar succeeds in eliciting anger with a sense of helplessness, and deep despair.

What succeeded too is the performance of Hani Furstenberg in fleshing our her character, as we witness her credible spectrum of emotions ranging from the damsel in distress, and in being able to draw strength from within to deal with her terrible ordeal. Her chemistry with Michaela Eshet is quite amazing, and you will definitely be moved at how their characters interact with each other in the dealing with the fallout, even though it was just a short scene. I guess nobody should be made to suffer in that manner without clear repercussions or punishment, but reminds you in real life that sometimes there are situations where you can't expect everything to go in your favour, even though you're right and are seeking justice.

Instead, we see how one can face up to adversary in whichever form they take, and through Rachel, we realize that the well intent of others, who subconsciously impose their will and thoughts onto yourself, becomes enslaving, and there comes a time where one must break free. Free from living a life dictated by the community, of the need to conform unnecessarily, and to learn to stand on your own two feet. Michaela Eshet encapsulates this development of her character, and you can't help but to cheer silently when she finally breaks free from a mindset bondage.

It might be a small movie with a small principle cast, but its message and lesson couldn't be more than relevant, especially when it comes to the notion of blood being thicker than water, with a mother's love that knows no bounds.

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