Saturday, April 14, 2012


Yoni (Yoav Rotman) is like many kids about to turn thirteen.  He's insecure about his physical appearance, unhappy with his home and school life, and bristling against socially mandated rites of passage.  Just when it seems like he's got things under control: ingesting muscle building powders and doing pull-ups, selling completed homework to schoolmates, and buckling down to learn the passages from the Torah he's been assigned for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah, his brother, Torner (Michael Moshonov), long discarded by his parents to an institution for the developmentally disabled, returns home without warning.

Guy Nattiv's (Strangers) Mabul (The Flood) concerns itself with Yoni's journey as he struggles to deal with the changing dynamics of his family.  Although still living together, his mother, Miri (Ronit Elkabetz), and father, Gidi (Tzahi Grad), are estranged, each one deeply disappointed with the other and the roles they've taken on (or abandoned) in life.  Meanwhile, Yoni's black market homework scheme is going south and some of his more menacing customers decide that he needs to be dealt a lesson.

Mabul is a fine slice-of-life/coming-of-age drama that only deepens in scope as it unfolds.  Yoni's progress is metered out in his advances and declines in authority over the Torah reading; the title of the film being a reference to the story of Noah.  The film plays out as a chronicle of Yoni's awakening to self.  And, as with most people, it's not an easy road for him to travel, requiring that he wrestle with himself, his family and the past.

Mabul (The Flood) opens the 20th Jewish Film Festival at the NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium (in the Portland Art Museum) on Sun., April 15th at 7pm.  More info about the festival available here.

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