Thursday, May 31, 2007

May 31st Log

2005, Amos Gitai, Israel / Belgium / France / Spain
1st Viewing, DVD

Free Zone opens with a long nearly 10-minute close-up shot of Natalie Portman looking out a car window crying. We soon hear the voice of the driver who tells her she has a long journey ahead. Portman’s character asks to go with and so begins the film which takes us from Jerusalem into Jordan’s free zone. The opening shot is an impressive one mostly for Portman who lets it all out. We slowly learn the mysteries of her tears as well as the back stories of these women through flashbacks (which are occasionally superimposed with the present. The converging of past and present is one of the essential aspects of the film, which also details the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts with a simple and even at times dry humor approach. Israeli director and co-writer Amos Gitai clearly loves Portman’s face, as she often leaves the camera on it with close-ups. The performances are terrific, and Hana Laszlo won the Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her powerful portrayal of Hanna, an Israeli taxi driver who is in search of a debt.


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