Nina's Tragedies

Writer/director Savi Gavison (Love Sick) mixes ample heapings of drama, tragedy, and dark humor in Nina's Tragedies, anchored by a great performance from Ayelet Zurer (Desperado Square, A Night Without Lola). Nina recently lost her husband to a suicide bomber, and is now dealing with the complex emotions surrounding his death. The narrator of the story is Nina's nephew Nadav (Aviv Elkabeth), who has a huge crush on his aunt. The big thing holding this film back is the Nadav character. By having everything framed through the eyes of Nadav, Gavison severely limits what he is able to tell. Worse, the Nadav character is a bit creepy. He spies on his aunt through windows and is intensely jealous of any men that she meets.

Basically, Nadav comes across as a spoiled kid. He does go through a learning curve as the film progresses, but Nina is far more interesting. At first, she cannot stop crying. She thinks that Avinoam (Alon Abutbul, The Order, Clean Sweep), the soldier who came bearing the news is attractive, causing all sorts of additional guilt. Still, time heals all tragedies, and Gavison moves forward quickly to show Nina in various stages of grief. Once she thinks everything is better, a reappearance by Avinoam and a series of strange occurrences cause her to relapse into grief.

Nina thinks she sees her dead husband walking naked in a street, and again staring at her through her window. Her relationship with Avinoam becomes much more intimate. Nina believes that her husband is alive, although everybody else believes it is her imagination, or, more likely, some guilt surrounding her relationship with Avinoam. Zurer has a luminous presence, and Gavison really throws her through the emotional wringer, having the Nina character go all over the place.

Aside from the Nadav character, Gavison adds all sorts of other interconnected subplots and additional characters. The goal is to show how everything fits together, and that bad things may turn out good, but a lot of this feels superfluous. Nadav's relationship with his devout father, or his peeping Tom cohort really don't add much to the plot. Nina's Tragedies begins with the death of Nadav's father, and flashes back to earlier. Like much of the film, it really isn't integral to the plot, and feels more like a forced way of making the film a bit more artistic. Gavison did just fine by focusing on Nina, and should have stuck with that.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Hebrew and some Russian with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains language, minor nudity, and some sensuality, would be an R.

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