"World Cinema: Israel"

My book, "World Cinema: Israel" (originally published in 1996) is available from Amazon on "Kindle", with an in-depth chapter comparing and analyzing internationally acclaimed Israeli films up to 2010.

Want to see some of the best films of recent years? Just scroll down to "best films" to find listings of my recommendations.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Valentina's Mother

Valentina's Mother, directed by Arik Lubetzki and Matti Harari, opened this week in Israeli movie theaters.  Adapted from a novella by Savyon Librecht, the film provides a psychological study of an elderly Israeli woman and her relationship with her young Polish caregiver named Valentina. 

Paula is an older woman, a widow, whose grown son, a successful lawyer, is worried about her and wants to get her someone to take care of her.  He brings her a young woman from the Philippines to be her caregiver, but she is not interested.  After she breaks down and confides in her friend about her loneliness and difficulties in taking care of herself, her friend takes her to a Catholic church where the priest arranges for a Polish girl to work for her.  The girl's name is Valentina. 

Aging Paula and teenage Valentina get along very well.  Like little girls, they sing songs, watch soap operas and eat ice cream together.  As their relationship becomes more complex, Valentina awakens memories in Paula, memories that were long forgotten, and slowly she becomes obsessed with the past, with her memories of her family in Poland before the war, and her childhood best friend, a Christian girl also named Valentina.

Extreme close-ups on Paula's face reveal what she is thinking and how she is reacting, showing a woman who is losing her grasp on reality and is confused between her past and the present.

Watch the trailer of Valentina's Mother (Israel, 2008, 75 minutes)

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