Another film screened at the AICE Israeli Film Festival 2005, Nina’s Tragedies tells the story of what happens after the worst has occurred. How does one survive? Can there still be happiness?
Alongside that, we are told the story of a thirteen year old boy, and his crush on his aunt. Perhaps the weaker element of this film, his love is manifested in cliched acts of adoration – making her a candlelit dinner, helping her to grieve, sharing her bed. There are times when this relationship seems real, but for the most part it fails to ring true. This is not the fault of Aviv Elkabeth, who gives Nadav the right amount of naiveté and lust, capturing what it is like to be thirteen very well indeed.
The strengths in this film lie in the portrayal of Nina and the exploration of her relationships with her former husband and new lover. A complex situation, it is made more complex again by the artificial addition of another character, a lookalike of her husband, seemingly only thrown into the mix to pad out the drama. Were it not for this facet, Nina’s Tragedies would be a simple tale of grief and rebirth, and it may have been much stronger in this form.
Nina herself is an attractive character – a real challenge for an actor, she is vulnerable and yet strong, independent and still needing. Played with real style, she comes to life beautifully at the hands of Ayelet Zorer, a veteran of multiple Israeli films and television productions, and soon to be seen in Steven Spielberg’s Munich, the story of the 1972 Olympic Games massacre of Israeli athletes. One can’t help but be moved by her situation, and Zorer is such an appealing presence that the film soars when she is onscreen, and seems somewhat diminished when she is absent.
Nina’s Tragedies is entertaining, but quite uneven in parts, with several unnecessary plotlines distracting from what could have been a more straightforward but moving story. Featuring strong performances by its leads, it is well made, but the distractions limit its impact.Rating: