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The Bubble

Love and War

Setting a gay love affair amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just one of several riveting aspects of The Bubble, a heartfelt relationship and political drama from director Eytan Fox.

Fox is no stranger to controversy. In 2002 his film Yossi & Jagger depicted the hazards of love between two male soldiers stationed in an Israeli outpost on the Lebanese border. Now The Bubble widens his scope to explore the dangerous love affair between a Jew and an Arab in Israel. After all, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complicated and interminable enough already, so what harm can a little gay love do to it?

Lulu (Daniella Wircer) works in a beauty store in Tel Aviv while waiting for her chance to leave for design school in London. Yali (Alon Freidmann) manages a trendy, women-owned café where all the waiters are cute men he'd love to sleep with. Noam (Ohad Knoller) passes his time in a music store when he's not spending weekends with the National Guard watching fellow soldiers harass Palestinians at checkpoints.

They go clubbing, see plays (a scene from "Bent" is enacted in Hebrew), and pass out leaflets supporting left-leaning causes. They even impersonate French reporters so they can pass as press and sneak into Nablus for a day. They want to live and love -- and rid their country of the nasty politics that make their home such a volatile place. The three housemates exist in a relatively tranquil bubble until reality intrudes.

Noam's life changes when he meets Ashraf (Yousef Sweid), a cute Palestinian who's as rugged as he is romantic. Their fates become intertwined as they attempt to forge a friendship that transcends boundaries of culture (Ashraf is fully expected to marry, homosexuality is feared and despised) and politics (Ashraf doesn't have proper documentation to live in Tel Aviv).

The Bubble works effectively on many levels. It's a bubbly gay romance between unlikely people in an urban setting; the film exudes sufficient sexiness and wit to keep the action humming. But it's also a sobering political testament to the hurdles posed by cross-cultural relations and gay love -- without getting too heavy-handed about either.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars