Noble Savage, directed by Marco Carmel, and based on a novel by Dudu Busi, is a new Israeli feature film about a teenage boy living his life within the context of a tough reality in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tel Aviv known as "Shechunat HaArgazim", "the neighborhood of boxes" where the inhabitants live in very poor and highly improvised physical conditions, with lots of crates and boxes in the back yard.
Eli is an 11th grade Jewish boy, who is grossly overweight, bullied by the other kids, and a loner. In addition, he has a totally unstable family life, which is far from normative, even though his mother likes to try to imagine that it is at least somewhat "normative", which is hardly the case. He lives with his divorced mother and her lover, both of whom are recovering drug addicts, obsessed with trying to live a "mainstream" existence, which is actually impossible. His father, who lives nearby in the same poverty neighborhood, is an alcoholic, an artist, and obsessed with the Holocaust, which complicates the family dynamics even more, and hampers him from relating in a meaningful way to his son, who reaches out to him over and over again throughout the film.
Eli works hard to try to reunite his divorced parents. At the same time, he is trying to live a regular life, escaping the disastrous and dysfunctional reality that his parents have created for him. He befriends an attractive new Russian girl in the neighborhood named Anna and together they try to cope with their lives, but Eli is drowning in the complexities and malfunctions of life that surround him, with which he tries to cope. Throughout the film, Eli must cope with his mother’s fragility of being a recovering drug addict, the abusive nature of the mother’s lover, as well as the poverty, the vulgarity, the violence of this very tough neighborhood, where so many people lead meaningless and lonely lives.
Noble Savage is a hard-hitting film with excellent acting — both from young new actors and veteran stars such as Alon Aboutboul -- which offers a devastating look at what growing up in such surroundings can do to a young man and his severely challenged family.