Friday, April 6, 2018

Movie with Abe: Shelter

Directed by Eran Riklis
Released April 6, 2018

It’s a difficult thing for people from cultures that have irreconcilable historical differences to see eye-to-eye. Previous experiences and prejudices are substantial hurdles, and only in extreme circumstances are those who haven’t had contact before given the opportunity to spend time together. Watching those who wouldn’t normally be seen together but are forced to consider each other’s circumstances begin to trust one another is usually a rewarding journey, one that provides insight into how they approach each other and break down barriers that, at the moment of their first meeting, seemed completely insurmountable.

Naomi (Neta Riskin), a Mossad agent on leave trying to have a baby, is approached by her old handler Gad (Lior Ashkenazi) with a seemingly low-key assignment: to protect a Lebanese woman named Mona (Golshifteh Farahani) who has served as an informant for the Israelis and is recovering from surgery to change her face. Naomi travels to Germany, where she must work to keep Mona from trying to leave the apartment as her bandages slowly come off. While Mona initially treats Naomi like a servant, the two begin to realize that they have much more in common than they thought.

There have been a number of movies made about Israeli agents operating undercover missions with Arab informants turning against their people. This one stands out because of the intimate way in which it portrays the bond the Naomi and Mona form, one that begins with neither of them knowing their real names and truly understanding the places that each of them comes from both geographically and emotionally. This tale of two women contains plenty of layers, not simply a surface story with a predictable ending. It’s also a compelling thriller, one that builds suspense just as it builds a relationship between its two protagonists.

Both Riskin and Farahani deliver performances that capture the sentiments of their characters, making them feel three-dimensional and real. The two operate on a level playing field, being vulnerable with each other as they have conversations which make them understand the similarities of their backgrounds and the place in which they find themselves. The script is strong, wisely spending little time on the preconceived notions that its characters might have and instead skipping to the very worthwhile meat of its great story, one that fittingly memorable to help create a solid film.


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