Nina's Tragedies - A Film Review

by Caitlin Shamberg

Film-Forward

Nadav (Aviv Elkabets), an awkward 14 year old, is deeply in love with Nina (Ayelet July Zurer), his mother's younger and beautiful sister. Following her around and peeping through her windows to get a closer look into her private life, Nadav knows exactly what she's up to at all times and records her dramas, and his emotional reactions, in his diary. The film's narration stems from this journal, which gives director Savi Gabizon the ability to play with storytelling and perspective.

Only recently married, Nina's husband is killed in a terrorist attack. Following the funeral, Nadav is asked by his mom to move in with Nina to look after her while she mourns. For Nadav, this is a dream come true. But as Nina slowly recovers, she begins to fall for another man, and Nadav feels betrayed and vows never to speak to her again and moves in with his recently divorced father.

Although beautifully shot and well acted, the real merit of the film lies in the script. It is a story that isn't afraid to take chances and surprise the audience at every turn. Even the most unexpected events ring true. One afternoon, Nadav's father picks his son up after school in a van plastered with religious stickers and packed with fellow Hasids. Stopping in front of a busy café in the center of Tel Aviv, the van begins to play music and the Hasids all at once jump out into the street and begin an impromptu dance with the onlookers. But the upbeat celebration suddenly turns sour for Nadav when Nina's lover coincidentally appears.

Along with its quirky characters, the film creates a world that is emotionally complex, bringing absurdist humor into the tender moments and depth into the absurdity. Because Nadav's 14-year-old impulses are honestly depicted without judgment, we trust his coming of age, as well as his difficult reconciliation with his imperfect parents.

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