The movie follows a group of young friends in the city of Tel Aviv and is as much a love song to the city as it is an exploration of the claim that people in Tel Aviv are isolated from the rest of the country and the turmoil it’s going through. The movie looks at young people’s lives in Tel Aviv through the POVs of gays and straights, Jews and Arabs, men and women. It all begins when Noam, a young Israeli soldier, serves in the reserve forces and meets at a check point a Palestinian young man called Ashraf. Following an incident during which Noam misplaces his ID card at the check point, Ashraf shows up on the doorstep of the apartment that Noam shares with a gay man and a straight woman.
The movie focuses on the relationships — familial, sexual and friendships — between three long-time friends, two gay men and one hetero woman. Their chemistry and crazy lives would make for an entirely enjoyable romantic comedy without the layers of cultural context and history, but with the addition of, it creates a memorable, urgent and rewarding story.
When one of the men falls for a gay Palestinian, their bubble is popped irreversibly as they are all forced to confront the realities of life in a region defined — and seemingly sustained by — hatred. And being a gay Palestinian, it would seem, means twice the agony and hardships as there is little tolerance for alternative life styles within that culture and religion.
In Tel Aviv three close friends are roommates: Lulu (Daniela Virtzer), a beautiful young woman with strong opinions; Yali (Alon Friedman), a very ‘out’ gay young man who works in a popular café; and Noam (Ohad Knoller), a handsome, somewhat shy fellow who, in addition to his day job in a music shop, is a member of the National Guard and therefore spends his free time serving as a guard at the city’s checkpoints. It is during one of these guard duty weekends that he meets a young Palestinian named Ashraf (Yousef ‘Joe’ Sweid), and a mutual attraction occurs. The three friends decide to ‘stowaway’ the illegally present Ashraf (whom they nickname with an Israeli name) and while Ashraf and Noam settle into a love relationship, Yali hires Ashraf at his café, and Yali and Lulu both proceed to find love interests, too. All goes well until Ashraf must return home for his sister’s wedding. Though in Tel Aviv Ashraf has been able to be openly gay with Noam, life is far different in Jerusalem: Ashraf is told he must marry his sister’s groom-to-be sister. In an attempt to rescue Ashraf from his fate, Noam and Lulu disguise themselves as French reporters to gain access to Ashraf. In a moment of supposed seclusion, Noam and Ashraf are discovered kissing by the groom-to-be, and this act gives cause for blackmail in order for Ashraf to remain ‘in the closet’.
You can watch the official trailer of the movie here:
Original Title: Ha-Buah
Language: Hebrew, Arabic, English
Category: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Eytan Fox
Stars: Ohad Knoller, Yousef ‘Joe’ Sweid, Daniella Wircer
Run time: 117 min