Yona (29th Israeli Film Festival)

We followed up our film about the playwright Aloni with a biopic about an Israel poetess, Yona Wallach. This movie is sort of like an Israeli La Vie en Rose, except that I didn’t hate it.

As I gather it, Yona was a poet/lyricist from the ’60s to her death in the ’80s. Much like Edith Piaf, she seems to have been awful in most regards. Self-indulgent, dishonest, promiscuous, reckless, narcissistic, and possibly diagnosably insane. I felt like Naomi Levov (sometimes “Lvov”) as Yona pulled off what Marion Cotillard didn’t, in that Yona was still somehow not utterly repulsive despite her severe and tragic flaws.

Sexism, man. It's much easier when you can lock the windows.

Here she tries to get into the boys poets’ “No Girls Allowed” treehouse.

It is (as I mentioned with Aloni) impossible to tell whether an artist is any good from a film, and that includes this one. (This is also true of Tim Burton’s classic Ed Wood, and is probably irrelevant in most cases.) But she was a human, with ups and downs which create at least a somewhat interesting story.

There’s familial resistance, of course. And some sexism, at least at first. She may or may not have heard voices; it’s impossible to trust her on the matter of her own history. She lost her father, I think, during the War for Independence, and though she claims to have no memory of him, she’s also clearly lying.

At one point, she checks herself into a funny farm, but it’s not clear if she’s done so because of hearing a voice in her head, or because she wants a quiet place to write, or because she’s heard they’re treating people with this novel miracle drug, LSD, which is said to open your mind, and so on.

But it was worth a shot.

Turns out the spin bin isn’t the best place to contemplate art and life.

It’s also impossible to tell whether she loves the Polish (?) attendant who rescues her from the place, and who wants to marry her and raise children, until it’s clear that she’s going to abort the child she’s carrying.

It’s not really my kind of movie but I found it engaging. The Boy was rather unimpressed, and I think a little down on the festival at this point, given that the previous year had given us four out of four excellent films.

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