You can see in this blitzed crew the bare bones of a once-happy family, as they plow like automatons through their domestic routines and care for each other with rough resentment. But they've been pulverized by the recent death of the father. The director, Nir Bergman, takes no emotional shortcuts: The father was killed not in the army or by a suicide bomber, but by a bee sting—a death all the more horrific for being so banal. Maya, who was with her dad when he died, feels responsible but doesn't know it, and so unleashes her helpless rage on her palpably depressed mother, who's barely holding the family together on a practical level, let alone attending to the children's grief, or her own. Yair, suspended from school and refusing counseling, patrols commuter trains in a mouse suit, handing out leaflets and lecturing anyone who will listen on the subject of infinity. Ido, his face stiff with anger, dragoons his little sister into videotaping him as he jumps into an empty swimming pool.
Broken Wings is Bergman's first feature, though you'd never know it from the unassuming sophistication of his directing style. His juxtaposition of tone is ironic and often witty as he builds on his own spare script, drawing poetry from the smallest details. Drained of color, the film achieves an air of quiet emergency. Broken Wings has been a huge hit in Israel, and it's not hard to see why. Bergman is handing his audience a respite from the endless reminders of war while echoing their daily experience of unrelenting stress. The Ulmans float past each other like lonely satellites—until another crisis comes along that makes everything much worse, and then, without fireworks, modestly but significantly better. There's no euphoria at the end, only the exhausted calm of those who have fought their battles and come to terms.
THE SAME RIVER TWICE WAS DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY ROBB MOSS, NOW PLAYING AT EDWARDS UNIVERSITY, IRVINE; BROKEN WINGS WAS WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY NIR BERGMAN; PRODUCED BY ASSAF AMIR; AND STARS MAYA MARON, ORLY ZILERSCHATZ-BANAI AND DANIEL MAGON. NOW PLAYING AT EDWARDS SOUTH COAST VILLAGE, SANTA ANA.