A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (Une bouteille a la mer) (NR)

Drama 99 December 31, 1969
By Jon Frosch
On the heels of The Other Son comes another earnest, well-intentioned, slightly cloying French film about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Thierry Binisti's A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, adapted from Valérie Zenatti's popular novel. The rather contrived premise: Pretty French-Israeli teen Tal (Agathe Bonitzer) strikes up an online correspondence with Naim (Mahmoud Shalaby), an equally lovely young Palestinian man in the Gaza Strip. It's Romeo and Juliet Middle East style—except the forbidden courtship is sublimated into e-mails (read aloud via voiceover) consisting, by turns, of ironically worded hostilities, pointed questions, idealistic flourishes, and the occasional weather report. Early scenes, in which Tal and Naim sit rapt in front of their inboxes, have a promising tension; Binisti and his appealing leads convey the almost compulsive desire to know the "other," the strange forces of attraction beneath long-simmering resentment. The contrast between two lives is also deftly evoked, with sequences of Tal's mostly pleasant routine in Jerusalem juxtaposed against glimpses of Naim’s claustrophobic Gaza existence. But Binisti hits his marks too neatly and offers up too transparent a message for a situation steeped in ragged, confusing emotions.
Thierry Binisti Agathe Bonitzer, Mahmoud Shalaby, Hiam Abbass, Riff Cohen, Abraham Belaga, Jean-Philippe Ecoffey, Smadi Wolfman, Salim Daw, Loai Nofi, François Loriquet Valérie Zenatti, Thierry Binisti Miléna Poylo, Gilles Sacuto

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