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  • Aliyah | DVD Review

    By | October 16, 2013


    Director: Elie Wajeman

    Writers: Elie Wajeman, Gaëlle Macé

    Starring: Pio Marmaï, Cédric Kahn, Adèle Haenel, Guillaume Gouix, Sarah Le Picard, David Geselson, Olivier Desautel, Jean-Marie Winling, Mar Sodupe, Aimé Vaucher, Bertrand Constant, Marion Picard

    For reasons that are [thankfully] never really explained, Alex (Pio Marmaï) has decided that he will quit drug dealing and start his life anew. When his cousin (David Geselson) announces that he will soon be opening a new restaurant in Tel Aviv, Alex sees the perfect opportunity to break free of his checkered past in France and start over with a clean slate in Israel. First Alex must raise enough money by dealing cocaine to buy into the restaurant as a partner, then he must make aliyah in order to legally immigrate as a Diaspora Jew to Israel.

    As Alex tries to save money, his lecherous older brother Isaac (Cédric Kahn) finds different ways to emotionally extort it from Alex. Alex continues to deal drugs in the tireless hope that he will be able to make more money than Isaac can borrow. It is difficult not to assume that this is precisely the situation that Alex is trying to escape. Sure, Alex may truly want to go legit, but as long as he remains in Paris, Alex will continue to be Isaac’s lifeline. It is not until Alex unsuccessfully attempts to borrow money from their father (Jean-Marie Winling), that it becomes obvious why Alex is Isaac’s only option for support.

    All the while, Alex commences an intense relationship with Jeanne (Adèle Haenel), a non-Jewish woman. Jeanne shows absolutely no interest in moving to Tel Aviv, instead she wants to convince Alex to remain in Paris. She plays the yin to Isaac’s yang, both of them functioning as necessary yet diametrically opposed components of Alex’s existential crisis. It seems as though none of Alex’s options will allow him to leave Isaac but stay with Jeanne.

    In many ways, Alex’s most intriguing struggle is with his Jewishness. Alex seems to feel very little attraction to the Jewish faith or even speaking Hebrew. There is nothing theologically or politically profound about his aliyah, instead it functions as a logical and integral part of his escape plan. Once Alex arrives in Tel Aviv, it seems possible that he was seeking a self-exile rather than an escape.  

    Rating: 8/10

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