Cinema Signal:

World Cinema: Israel
by Amy Kronish

. "Nina's Tragedies"(aka, "Ha-asonot Shel Nina")

Just who's story this is may be the first question to settle. Is it Nina's (Avelet Zorer) - the title character, a beautiful Israeli woman with a dead husband, emotions in the deep freeze and the object of her fourteen year-old nephew's concentrated glandular interest? Or, is it Nadav's (Aviv Elkabeth), the nephew, the narrator, the peeping tom, the one who places Nina on the altar of his adolescent beam of love?

His story, told in a series of flashbacks, starts in real time with a body awaiting burial, then to the earlier possessor of that body, Nadav's father, dying of cancer, when he's being shown his son's diary of sexual awakening by an odd school official. In it, Nadav has detailed how he and his older pal Menachem (Dov Navon) have been lurking in the windows of pretty females at night. Highest on the list of objects in their nocturnal visits is Nadav's own aunt, Nina.

Nina is not a happy woman. When her husband Haimon (Yoram Hattab) is killed in a terrorist attack, she turns inward. Nadav's mother Alona (Anat Waxman), still young and vital enough to be a strong personality with a healthy taste for men, sends Nadav to stay with her sister Nina, to provide comfort through companionship. She has no idea of the torch the kid is carrying for his aunt and how much of a joy it is for him to be actually living with the object of his youthful desire.

But, when Nina slowly comes out of the emotional grip of her grievance, and takes up with Avinoam (Alon Abutbul), a man who attended the funeral for Haimon and attracted her more than she has admitted, the boy's happiness is crushed and he has to come of age and get over it.

The boy's adjustments to Nina and her emotional tempests comes with flashes of comedy, the poignancy of lost and reclaimed love, a sprinkle of shame, and some silliness (a man who is the twin of Nina's dead husband, walking in the nude on the streets of Tel Aviv). It's a nice movie, it's nice to be in the company of Ms. Zurer, (a steadily working actress in Israeli film), but the issues and the drawing power of Savi Gavison's film don't rise to a much higher level than that.

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Avelet Zorer as Nina
A woman not without her tragedies

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