M-SPIFF Review: “Jellyfish” (Meduzot)

Directors: Shira Geffen, Etgar Keret
Writers: Shira Geffen
Producers: Yael Fogiel, Laetitia Gonzalez, Amir Harel, Ayelet Kit
Starring: Sarah Adler, Tsipor Aizen, Bruria Albek, Ilanit Ben-Yaakov, Assi Dayan
Country of origin: Israel
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 78 min

Capping off my exciting week at the Mpls-St Paul International Film Festival (because Tornatore’s film was sold out) was quite an enjoyable little film out of Israel entitled Jellyfish by a husband and wife directing team who obviously have not been tainted with the Hollywood style of drama (big, loud and unrealistic). Instead, they’ve put together a quiet, reflecting pool of a film that can touch everyone on a personal and relatable level.

Sort of in the same vein as Babel or Crash, several lives tangentially cross paths, each with their own problems and worries. But unlike more mainstream fare like Babel or Crash, Jellyfish is devoid of all the melodrama and exaggerated life experiences. Jellyfish has much more realistic expectations of its characters in terms of the types of problems real people have and the ways in which they deal with them; through dialogue, acting out or emotional expression.

The film is very female centric. Each of the main characters are females (which is a good thing) and each have real life problems that although are heartbreaking, are also touching and even humorous at times. One young woman stumbles across a nearly mute little girl; wet and almost naked as she emerges from the ocean. Forced to take care of her for the weekend, it changes the woman’s life and her relationships forever. A migrant worker from the Philippines is tossed from caretaker job to caretaker job for various elderly folk while her only ambition is to get back home in time for her son’s birthday party and with enough money to buy him a decent present. Meanwhile, a young couple is forced to spend their honeymoon in a cheap motel instead of going to the Bahamas because the bride has broken her ankle on their wedding night. Together, they see their entire future unfold before them and their relationship is strengthened by an unlikely fellow tenant at the hotel.

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