Opening the AICE Israeli Film Festival 2007 is Aviva, My Love (Aviva ahuvati), winner of six Awards of the Israeli Film Academy in 2006, including those for Best Actress and Supporting Actress, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Director.
Assi Levy is Aviva, wife of an unemployed husband, mother of three dysfunctional children, sister to a battered wife, daughter to a suicidal mother and obsessive father, hotel chef and aspiring writer. That anyone can keep up with the demands of her extended family is a wonder, and yet Aviva does so with an infectious smile, never seeming to complain about the limitations her various filial commitments place on writing, her true passion. With the mentorship of a former best-selling author, she hopes to become published herself, but a financial crisis and the accumulating problems that afflict her family mean she will be faced by several difficult choices.
Aviva is beautifully played by Levy, who brings tenderness to certain scenes and a grim determination to others. She is matched by Rotem Abuhab (as her sister Anita), who adds an element of instability and danger to Aviva’s fairly steady existence. Anita is full of nervous energy that perfectly fits her role as the slightly disjointed sister, desperate to become pregnant and carry to term. The cast is rounded out by Dana Ivgy who so bravely led Or (Mon trésor, My Treasure) – the best offering at the AICE Israeli Film Festival 2005. Here she plays only a minor role, but shares some important scenes with Levy in the final act that showcase her obvious talent.
The problems, if there are any, lie mainly in the multiplicity of crises that afflict Aviva – surely one person can’t have such bad luck? A relatively common flaw, the absence of the slightest ray of hope – and the impending emotional disaster we are sure must come – means the audience can’t allow themselves to pray for the best… the atmosphere is stifling. Even Aviva gradually loses her ability to smile and laugh at the events that must surely overwhelm her, and if she can’t stay positive, the audience certainly can’t be expected to.
There is, however, inspiration to be found in this quiet and slow-paced drama of a woman whose desire to stay true to herself allows her the strength to continue on in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstructions. Excellent performances from the two leads allow Aviva, My Love to stay afloat in spite of the sense that Aviva may be drowned in a sea of dysfunction and negativity.Rating: