Film-Forward Review: [THE BUBBLE]

Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Ohad Knoller as Noam, left
Yousef Sweid as Ashraf
Photo: Strand Releasing

Rotten Tomatoes
Showtimes & Tickets
Enter Zip Code:

Directed by: Eytan Fox.
Produced by: Gal Uchovsky, Ronen Ben Tal & Amir Feingold.
Written by: Fox & Uchovsky.
Director of Photography: Yaron Scharf.
Edited by: Yosef Grunfeld & Yaniv Raiz.
Music by: Ivri Lider.
Released by: Strand Releasing.
Language: Hebrew & Arabic with English subtitles. Country of Origin: Israel. 117 min. Not Rated.
With: Ohad Knoller, Yousef Sweid, Daniela Wircer & Alon Friedmann.

Like in Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette 20 years ago and many films since, one-half of The Bubble’s gorgeous gay couple can’t come out to family due to strict cultural disapproval. But director Eytan Fox and his co-writer and real-life partner Gal Uchovsky up the Romeo and Romeo political ante by setting their film on the Israeli/Palestinian divide.

Hunky Noam (Ohad Knoller) is just trying to passively finish his annual month of army reserve duty at a border check point. His medic training is inadequate for an upsetting emergency with a pregnant Arab, but his gaydar is on full strength. He makes a pass that’s smoothly received by handsome Palestinian Ashraf (Yousef Sweid), even amidst the tense backdrop. (Knoller also starred as a gay soldier in Fox’s Israeli hit Yossi & Jagger.)

At home in Tel Aviv, Noam's flat mates, flamboyant restaurateur Yali (Alon Friedmann) and sassy designer/Carrie Bradshaw-wannabe Lulu (Daniela Wircer), help him to readjust to civilian life as a snobby High Fidelity-type record shop clerk. His indie rock listening favorites include Bright Eyes, Belle & Sebastian, and Keren Ann, while everyone else is obsessed with Pop Idol.

When Ashraf shows up in Noam’s sophisticated Tel Aviv neighborhood, referred to by the metaphorical title, the Israeli and his roommates think they can expand the protective illusion to him as they organize a Friday night beach party, Rave Against the Occupation. Ashraf relaxes in the atmosphere of being out, even though he has to pretend to be the Israeli Shimi, a false identity he previously used as an illegal construction worker.

Frankly teasing each other about the great sex we see them having, Noam’s and Ashraf’s growing romance is touching, but no heavy-handed coincidence or reference is missed. They take turns remembering their childhoods in adjacent Jerusalem neighborhoods (seen as if through home movies). Ashraf recalls the Israeli government destroying his family’s house, driving them to settle in Nablus, while Noam reminisces on his late mother trying to organize an Arab/Jewish playground party (inspired by the director’s mother’s peace efforts).

The two even attend a performance of Martin Sherman’s play Bent about homosexuals in a Nazi concentration camp, featuring Lior Ashkenazi from Fox’s more complex Walk on Water. (The outing almost turns into an opportunity to reenact a Seinfeld episode as a Time Out: Tel Aviv editor has other ideas here on how to make the Holocaust seem sexy.) Even with a comic detour when Lulu fakes being a French TV reporter to bring Noam to Nablus, where Ashraf’s impending brother-in-law is a local Hamas leader, reality keeps intruding as Ashraf’s secrets are discovered on both sides of the border. The film shifts to a tragic tone, bursting the bubble of naiveté. Nora Lee Mandel
September 10, 2007



Archive of Previous Reviews

Contact us