Directed by Nir Bergman. Starring Orly Zilberschatz-Banai, Maya Maron, Nitai Gvirtz, Vladimir Friedman, Dana Ivgi, Danny Niv, Daniel Magon, Eliana Magon. (2002, R, 87 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., April 30, 2004
The Ullman family is miserable. A pall has hung over the Israeli family since the death of its patriarch months before the beginning of the movie. After spending three months in a depression, the widowed mom, Dafna, has taken a night job as a midwife in a Haifa hospital to support herself and her four kids. In order for the arrangement to work, she must leave the care of her two youngest children to her her two eldest, Maya (Maron) and Yair (Gvirtz), who are in their late teens. Maya is still in school and also sings in a rock band that is on the verge of moving to Tel Aviv. She is resentful of the added chores and responsibilities dumped on her and frequently "forgets" to pick up her siblings or neglects other tasks. Brother Yair shoulders even fewer responsibilities. Once a promising basketball player, he has dropped out of school and instead works in a mouse costume handing out flyers on the subway. The residue of death hangs in the air, although no one discusses its presence. Broken Wings focuses on these individuals without commenting or judging. As a family drama, the film is interesting but not striking. What is most beguiling about the film, however, is what it leaves out. We learn early on that the father has died, but we’re well into the picture before discovering how it happened. Even more intriguing is that the film contains no material about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is not even present as part of the background milieu. It’s not until the film is over that we fully appreciate the originality of an Israeli film that focuses completely on the family crisis while leaving politics behind altogether.