Stars: Shira Haas, Alena Yiv, Tamir Mula
This tender and compellingly understated Israeli drama about a young single mother and her sick child is saved from the mawkishness of such fare as ‘The Fault is in Our Stars’ by an empathetic but richly nuanced script and a pair of excellent central performances.
Asia (Yiv) is a thirty-five-year-old nurse, who moved from Russia to Jerusalem with her then baby daughter Vika, some years earlier. Vika (Haas) is now a frail but spiky seventeen-year-old and the two have a tetchy relationship. Asia is outgoing, flirtatious, and given to staying out late at night, drinking and dancing and having one-night stands, as well as conducting a rather tawdry affair with a married doctor colleague. Vika is surly and uncommunicative, spending most of her time at the skateboard park with her best friend, and clumsily flirting with boys. Their frosty daily home routine is shaken up when it is discovered that Vika has a degenerative motor disease and her health begins to deteriorate rapidly.
While Asia is initially unsure how to act, Vika’s illness ultimately brings mother and daughter together, even when Asia’s decision to hire a young male trainee nurse Gabi (Mula) causes complications.
The picture boasts a palpable rapport between the leads (it helps that they really look alike too). Yiv’s Asia is a spirited woman for whom, it is intimated, motherhood has hitherto been a burden, but who movingly learns to forge a deep and true connection with her daughter, while Haas, best known as the fleeing Hasidic Jewish girl in TV’s ‘Orthodox’ is affectingly vulnerable but defiant and cheeky as Vika. Daniella Nowitz's flexible camerawork switches between suitably muted and melancholic tableaux of the Jerusalem environs, to deft handheld shooting for more intimate moments.
Asia is available to stream on Curzon Home Cinema from 20th November
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