Thursday, July 31, 2008
Jellyfish has moments of wit, humor, hope, joy, fantasy and beauty.
The rest of the film presents a bleak picture of unpleasant and struggling people in a bleak landscape of rundown parts of Israel.
Almost no-one is nice to anyone else, and bad luck fills in to add misery when people fail to create problems for themselves and each another.
Beginning with a child who mysteriously walks onto the beach, apparently from the sea, and later, just as strangely, disappears, the film follows the (really bad) waitress who finds the child, a Filipino care giver, a couple that just got married, and some other characters who interact with them.
Except for the care giver, who is the one sympathetic character in the film, just about everyone is either a schlemiel, a schmozzle, or both. (Yiddish: The classic definition: A schlemiel is the waiter who slips and drops a bowl of soup in the customer's lap; a schlemozzle is the customer with a lap full of soup.)
The film is well acted, original, was a prize winner at Cannes, and was shown at Lincoln Center in New Films / New Directors.
Nevertheless, its sprinkling of dark humor, buried in a dark vision, is not likely to cheer up most people, or do much for the Israeli tourist industry.
For anyone on a holiday going to the beach and looking for some happy times, perhaps the best advice would be to avoid both jellyfish and Jellyfish.