The Flood @ Montreal Israel Film Festival

the floodGuy Nattiv’s film The Flood is based on a short screenplay by Noa Berman-Herzberg.  He liked it so much that he and Berman-Herzberg made a short film based upon it in 2002.  There is actually a Montreal connection to the film in that the original music was done by Patrick Watson.

Yoni (Yoav Rotman) is almost 13-years-old and is fixated on getting bigger.  He takes protein shakes, does chin ups and measures his height constantly.  So preoccupied with the lateness of his growth spurt that he is paying a guy at the gym for weight gaining powder.  He does homework for others at his high school and charges them.  This is the money he uses to buy the powder.  Nothing is going smoothly in his life.  At home his parents do not talk.  So estranged are his parents that his father sleeps on the couch.  His dad Gidi (Tzahi Grad) is a crop duster, who also grows and smokes marijuana.  His mother Miri (Ronit Elkabetz – The Band’s Visit) runs a daycare and is having an affair with the father of one of her kids.

There is not much money at home as Gidi has been suspended from flying as he was caught being stoned on the job.  He has gotten behind on many of the bills including paying the rabbi who is instructing Yoni for his Bar Mitzvah.

Their home life becomes even more complicated when they get a call from the place where their son/brother Tomer (Michael Moshonov – Lebanon) is being taken care of.  They are told they must take him home a sonce again Gidi is behind on the bills.  Tomer is autistic and is on medication.  Yoni is not happy that his brother is living at home with them.  The whole stability of the family is tested greatly.  Will they be able to weather all the additional stress and become a real family or will they fall apart?

The strongest part of the film is the acting.  Especially that of the young Yoav Rotman, in his first film.  He takes a very difficult part and does a very natural job portraying a young boy going through a myriad of emotions.  Playing a character that is coming-of-age is always a tricky thing and is made even that much harder in this case due to all of Yoni’s family issues.  A real star is Ronit Elkabetz, who does a marvelous job portraying an overwhelmed mother.  She is not equipped mentally or emotionally to take care of her special needs son.  Despite the fact that she loves him, she cannot take care of him.  Crushing and moving.

Though I have stated that the strongest part of the film is the acting I would be remiss if I neglected to mention Nattiv’s job directing it.  There are several stories going on in the film that involve different characters and he skillfully interweaves the stories seamlessly.  More importantly he gives each character enough screen time to adequately develop their story.  As a result we understand and empathize with each of them.  And are invested in each story.  He also does not glamourize what it is like to have a family member who is autistic.  It is hard and would place stress on even the tightest of families.  This family is not a strong unit and the strain of it almost crushes them for good.

Beautifully photographed film about a family in crisis with no political overtones.  A story that could take place in any home in any part of the world.

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