Film Movement – Year 11 Film 3: Aliyah

_MG_6995two-stars1Alex, a secular Parisian Jew, is not that pleased at what his life has become, which is why he so desperately wants to get the hell out of Dodge. And by Dodge I mean Paris. Adam, that’s me, the person writing this review, wants not to get the hell out of Dodge, but rather go back in time a few hours and simply dodge this film altogether. Well, until you brainy scientists out there get off your lazy budunk-a-dunks and invent a time machine I might as well make the most of my blog post and proceed with the review.

Now, where was I? Ah yes. Alex isn’t happy with his life in Paris and wants to move to Tel Aviv. His professional job as a drug dealer doesn’t seem to be all that satisfying, and his older brother, who is consistently running into trouble, continually pesters him for thousands of dollars in order to pay off debts. Alex’s solution; move to Israel and work with his cousin in a restaurant. All he has to do is learn hebrew and get his certificate of Jewishness, the latter of which comes with surprising ease.

Apparently, the writers felt Alex’s character alone wasn’t interesting enough to carry the film, and that his character’s arc would benefit from some curving, or in this case a love interest with some curvy hips. I strongly believe this decision of the writers was not for the best. Not only is a love interest not needed, but her character is so sadly under written. Anyhoo, enter the young and beautiful Jeanne, played by the always superb Kate Winslet.

Winslet has taken on a multitude of diverse roles in her career, knocking just about every one of them out of the park (thanks again, ye old baseball metaphor). But who knew she could play a french speaking… wait a minute, oh, are you sure, IMDB? Okay, never mind. It appears that Jeanne isn’t played by Winslet after all. Instead the love interest that needn’t exist is played by Adèle Haenel. This is the same Adèle Haenel who fooled me into thinking I was watching a sexy Winslet in he role as a synchronized swimming captain in 2007’s Water Lilies. Seriously though, Someone ought to pair these two actors in a film where they’re playing siblings, or clones, or something. Not only does Haenel so strongly resemble Winslet in looks, but in her fantastic acting as well. Too bad her character of Jeanne (not the actor playing Jeanne) is a part of what could have been a far better and less manufactured story were she not in it at all.

There aren’t many films I can think of where a drug dealing protagonist comes across as being as dull as this one. Here’s the problem, Alex, the focal point of the film, is just so uninteresting that not only did I have trouble buying the forced love interest storyline, but I had trouble actually giving a damn as well. And when you don’t care about what happens to any of the characters in a character-driven movie, really what’s the point?

Don’t get me wrong, the film does provide decent performances, and the photography – along with the placement of shots – give it some noteworthy aesthetics, but in the end if just one element of the filmmaking process (in this case, the writing) is not up to par with the rest of the production, to the point of eliciting a nonchalant attitude from an otherwise enthusiastic filmgoer, than ultimately what you have on your hands is a certified dud.

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