Combining a coming-of-age drama with ethnic tension, an exploration of drugs and sexuality among teenagers, and an examination of the unifying power of team sport, Vasermil attempts to achieve too much and succeeds in little.
Dima, Schlomo and Adiel are three young men growing up in Israel. Dima (David Teplitzky) is a new immigrant from Russia whose family is barely managing to sustain itself. Adiel (Adiel Samro), an Ethiopian Israeli, is highly skilled at soccer but lacks real ambition in the sport – he would rather spend his time sniffing glue with mates. The last is the extremely ambitious Schlomo (Nadir Eldad), who sees the only way forward in life as being as a soccer star, but whose conflict with his employer may mean he fails in his goals. Surrounding this group is a disparate collection of family and friends offering little in the way of support. When their school soccer coach brings them together in one team, however, for the first time they will have the chance at something more.
The biggest problem facing audiences is the completely unengaging nature of the three leads. Dima has a certain charm but is on a downward spiral it is hard to imagine him surviving; Schlomo places us immediately offside with his approach to his troubles. Adiel seems good-natured enough, but his absolute lack of motivation makes him hard to relate to. When the film is meant as a portrayal of youth as depicted by three main characters, if those characters aren’t either interesting or likable the film is bound to suffer.
This isn’t necessarily the fault of the actors, and Teplitzky at least appears to have some skill. He allows Dima his flaws while remaining charismatic, and the hint of vulnerability present in his dealings with his mother means he has a little more to him than just thug. Eldad plays Schlomo without imagination, however, seeming only to have two settings – normal and angry. Samro is the most unattainable of all.
The soccer scenes are straightforward, while the team-bonding sequence is – at best – corny. The film flows like treacle, with the 93 minute running time feeling like well over two hours. The eventual resolution for each character ranges from obvious to trite.
While its idea is not a bad one, Vasermil fails on most levels and becomes a relatively tiresome experience rather than the challenging one it seems intended to be. Disappointing, and hard to recommend.Rating: