Barash: Teenage rebels yearning for meaningful experiences
by Aida Amasuno Martín
- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2015: The first feature-length film by Israeli director Michal Vinik, screened in the New Directors section, depicts her country's alienated youth
It could be that the great strength of Michal Vinik's Barash, screened in the New Directors section of the 63rd San Sebastián Film Festival, resides not in its story (which has been seen before in cinema), nor in its realistic performances, and not even in the extremely graphic images it presents us with. Rather, it resides, plain and simple, in the place where this tale unfolds: Israel. With this title, the director, having won over the critics with her second short film Reality Check, in which she tackles some of her favourite themes (adolescents in search of freedom, losing one's virginity, the effects of drugs…), has embarked upon her first feature film.
Barash feels under pressure. One day her sister Liora, a secretary on a military base, disappears, as she has done many times before. Her parents fight on a regular basis. Her way to escape is through her friends, going out with them every night in Tel Aviv and indulging in alcohol, drugs and more. Suddenly, Hershko appears. The intensity of this experience overwhelms Barash, in addition to giving her life new meaning.
After seeing Barash, it is almost impossible not to think of Abdellatif Kechiche's feature film Blue Is the Warmest Colour [+see also:
interview: Abdellatif Kechiche
film profile], because in the same way as Adèle, Naam Barash, the protagonist, also feels a little confused and experiments with her schoolmate Hershko. The sex scenes between the two girls are completely accurate and authentic and have been shot with real sensitivity. There is great beauty in these two shy, passionate bodies that are eager to discover something new and therefore different.
Barash does not revisit the subject of two girls falling in love, experimenting, and what this might suggest about their different environments; it simply seeks to reflect a youth that is bored and tired (we're left unsure of what exactly), but extremely well connected in its social bonds and clumsy in its human relations.
However, the narrative loses some of its vigour as the film goes on. It is difficult to empathise with the main characters, a group of female friends with apparently comfortable lives who act so intensely and vehemently, and are disagreeable and angry with practically everything that moves. These girls feel an urgent need to take drugs because their country, Israel, has so little to offer them that they need to escape from reality and alienate themselves. But what would have happened if Barash had taken place in Madrid, Copenhagen or Amsterdam, for example? Would the outcome have been so effective? This question is worth further consideration.
The film, produced by Israeli company Lama Films, is being sold internationally by German-based M-Appeal.
(Translated from Spanish)