MGLFF Review: The Bubble

If Shakespeare had attempted to write Romeo & Juliet as a gay love story set in today's Middle East, he couldn't have written a more tragic romance than this plea for peace from Yossi and Jagger and Walk on Water director Eytan Fox and his writing (and life) partner Gal Uchovsky. Their star-crossed lovers are Noam (Yossi and Jagger's Ohad Knoller), an Israeli, and Ashraf (Walk on Water's Yousef "Joe" Sweid), a Palestinian. They don't exactly meet cute at a border post — Noam's comforting a Palestinian woman as she's about to give birth — but soon they're making out in Noam's Tel Aviv apartment. They quickly fall hard for each other. A trendy downtown area of Tel Aviv, where people are more into partying than politics, serves as the film's titular bubble; the city's secular liberal values allow Noam and Ashraf to embark on a meaningful relationship. But bubbles eventually burst. So what starts as a warm and insightful comedy about an interfaith love affair slowly transforms into a serious and frank dissection of Middle Eastern politics of — naturally — Shakespearian proportions. Fox and Uchovsky know that there's no room for wishful thinking when it comes to the conflict between Arabs and Jews, so don't hold out too much hope for a happy ending. But The Bubble doesn't just exist to deliver its antiwar message. It's also a love letter to Tel Aviv, one as intimate and revealing as any penned by Woody Allen to New York. But unlike Allen's New York, the Tel Aviv presented by Fox and Uchovsky is obviously not a city where a love like this — gay or straight — can last forever.

 
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