Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tribeca with Abe: Flawless

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran April 24th – May 5th.

Directed by Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit
International Narrative Competition

Being a teenager is hard enough for those who might be objectively perceived as normal. For anyone who falls outside a specific set of behaviors deemed standard, dealing with others who have yet to reach maturity and who sometimes derive pleasure from embarrassing those not like them can be truly horrific and impossible to endure. Though differences exist from country to country and culture to culture, there are universal similarities to be found which highlight the incredible height of intolerance that can exist from those who choose to shun rather than to embrace those they perceive as an other.

Eden (Stav Strashko) is a transgender girl who has just moved to a new school in Israel after the revelation of her true identity made her daily life unbearable. Choosing not to share her history, she befriends Mika (Netsanet Mekonen) and Keshet (Noam Lugasy), who each seek to change something about themselves by augmenting her breasts and slimming her nose, respectively. Eden soon learns that Mika and Keshet are taking active steps to achieve those changes, communicating with a kindly woman (Assi Levy) who has promised to help them in exchange for the donation of their kidneys. Though the process seems suspicious, Eden wants nothing more than to fit in.

This is a multifaceted teen drama, one that addresses the pressures that teenagers face to feel accepted and to correct perceived imperfections in whatever way they can. That becomes dangerous here as Eden risks both her secrets being revealed and her own safety, all in the name of wanting to be cool, succumbing to the influences of the judgmental popular kids at school and her own friends. A disturbing subplot involves Itay (Arad Triffon Reshef), a frequently bullied student who is the preferred target of a group of masked assailants who enjoy humiliating him in violent ways, gaining a twisted delight out of causing pain to others. It’s a facet of real life that may well exist in many places, far beyond the already unfortunate miseries of popularity contests.

Strashko, best known as a model in Israel, delivers an incredibly vulnerable and naturalistic turn as Eden, a sympathetic figure always nervous about how much of herself to share with a cruel world. Mekonen and Lugasy elevate their teenage sidekicks by making them seem three-dimensional, more than just an extension of Eden’s experience and desiring of affection and attention on their own. Filmmaking duo Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon expertly address their characters and present a situation that best allows them to feel like true representations of varied experiences, seen in an overall narrative well worth a platform like this.


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