» » Avanim (2004)

Short summary

Michale is a thirty year old woman. She works with her father in a Tel Aviv accounting office providing services to important religious institutions. She divides her time between her child, her husband, her work and the man with whom she is having an affair. When Michale learns of the tragic death of her lover, her life is shattered

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Mazuzahn
    A profound, subtle movie, Avanim (Stones in Hebrew) follows the coming of age of an Israeli woman today. Locked into a bland marriage, a stifling relationship with her father and a relentless daily routine - as much as she is locked into herself - she makes a U-turn when faced with death and corruption. A loving, intelligent and uncompromising account, which doesn't let you generalize or over simplify on anything, be it Israel, religion, tradition, Sephardi Jews or modern women. The heroin's stubborn silence and hurried pace in the city, the kindergarten teacher's womanly empathy, the old rabbi's gentleness and humbleness all make for unforgettable characters. Stunning performances at all level inlaid with haunting sober cello music, Nadjari's stone is a dark gem!
  • comment
    • Author: September
    Avanim is a powerful movie. At first glance it's about a married Israeli woman (Michale) living in a Yemeni religious environment who has a furtive affair with a man and is at odds with her father-and-boss and his unlawful activities that favor the financial interests of this religious community. Her lover dies in a suicide attack (we happen to know furtively too), but tears, grief and mourning is impossible. Nonetheless she'll manage to make something of that impossibility and the brewing family crisis: leave her husband eat the shabbat jachnun on his own, take her son, and change her life (we can imagine). At second glance it's the universal tragedy of a woman who tries to liberate from male coercion and a stringent religious community that has difficulties playing by the laws governing a democratic country. Also it's an optimistic story as it shows a multi-layered suffering fueling, not depression, but a dramatic change in destiny. The tempo and sound-track make us quasi insiders of all characters: prolonged shots of religious rituals and cooking alternate with brisk and allusive scenes.
  • comment
    • Author: Banal
    Many Euro films, especially, and others, like Avanim, have no idea what it takes to make a good movie--a good STORY. The absolutely MUST be a plot, which is something other than tracing a characters moods. This movie is tedious, belabored, self-indulgent. It takes way too long for the dramatic shift to occur and the main character, whose life, feeding her child, for example, is studiously documented, listlessly drifts from scene to scene without the viewer having an emotional latch to grab. The script is really nothing but an agenda, and tho the movie has pretty good "documentary" style acting, but it ain't enuf: first things first: STORY.
  • comment
    • Author: Legend 33
    Yes ladies and gentlemen, hot rocks just like the Stones album... Avanim (stones) infiltrates every pore of your body as you start to understand the life of women in Israel. The characters (especially the mysteriously feisty Assi Levy) unravel, the stones heat up, and you can just soak it all up. This is a slow movie which is NOT commercial mish mash - you have to work at it, and you will certainly feel uneasy during a major part of the film, but boy is it worth it...

    PS The israelo-palestinian conflict is not ignored in the film, and is brilliantly portrayed (and no I am not Muslim nor Jewish).

    My oh my, more from director Nadjari please !!
  • comment
    • Author: Usishele
    Avanim - Stones in English.. This film is like stones, Kidney stones! I can't spoil this film for you, the makers made a better job of it than I could ever do.

    The previous reviews lead to wonder if we watched the same movie..

    This is the story of Michale (Assi Levy), an incredibly dour, selfish woman who sets about ruining the lives of everyone around her, including her own.

    From its opening it is almost impossible to empathise with her or he circumstances. She seems to care little for her young son Nathi (Metanel Ziv), who she is constantly late for. She is contemptuous towards her seemingly innocent husband Shmoulik (Danny Steg) and is generally unhappy for the sake of being unhappy. Whilst her life is unremarkable, even boring, it never lends itself to the level of selfish destruction she imposes on those around her. We are never treated to any insight as to why she would be so callous, just that she is having an affair with some man to whom she hardly communicates and we never get to know. As a result she is always late to collect her poor cherub of a son from kinder garden.. Oh and the lover, after we see him once, gets blown up by a terrorist.. Well for once, I think that bomber did us all a favour! I didn't care, not for him, not for her. I was more concerned about the other people that may or may not have been killed or injured, such was my lack of interest for these characters.

    She works with her father (Uri Gavriel), who is for me a likable man. Her mother died apparently, but again we're not treated to any insight into this misfortune. It's just laid out before us as fact. It's hard to sum up a plot here as frankly there isn't one, we just get to follow people around like lost voyeurs.

    Michale is not the heroine of this film, she is just the catalyst of events. My sympathies lay with all the poor folk that had to deal with this excuse for a Mother/Wife/Daughter..

    On the plus side, and this is a cloud that requires extreme excavation, the scenes of Shabbat and the lengthy excursions into middle religious Jewish life are very interesting and manage to make this film almost watchable. I love anything to do with Israel, I could watch paint dry on a Jerusalem wall, but this film is a penance..

    The one progressive character in this film gets killed by a lucky strike from a stone throwing Talmudic man, which makes it sound like a more interesting film than it is..

    To summarise, I'm a non Jewish Englishman married to an Adeni Israeli, so I get the whole culture thing. Sadly, this film is just bad and my wife agrees..
  • comment
    • Author: Boyn
    Avanim is an important film that explores the struggle of one woman trying to focus on her own life while surrounded by the agendas of those around her.

    Asi Levy, in her European Film Award-nominated role, delivers one of the best performances of the year. Avanim is a finely nuanced film that tries to question a complex world through genuine truth and understanding. Brilliantly paced and with minute attention to detail, this film reaffirms Raphael Nadjari's place among the new great filmmakers who have so much to offer the language of cinema.

    Do not miss this film, though it may be hard to find in your area, this is a revelation of the human condition.
  • comment
    • Author: Weernis
    The clash between a modern, secular woman's desire for independence and her ties to the Rabbinical establishment that wants to dominate her life is the main theme of Avanim, a powerful French/Israeli drama by Raphael Nadjari. Set in the Hatikva district of Tel Aviv, Michale (Asi Levi) fulfills the roles expected of her. She is a dutiful wife, mother to a bright five-year old son, and loyal worker in her father's accounting firm. We know that things are not all right, however, when we see her having an afternoon affair with a lover, of whom we know next to nothing. Shooting in a close-up, intimate style with a hand-held camera and improvisational acting, we follow Michale going through the routine of her existence, mostly in moody silence, bringing her boy to a pre-school, being late in picking him up, and wearily greeting her husband late in the evening.

    Her Sephardic husband Shmoulik (Danny Steg), a building contractor, is a burly, decent fellow but does not seem to provide the emotional gratification Michale is seeking. Her life becomes more tightly wound when she discovers her father's (Uri Gabriel) complicity in a scheme to pad the number of students to attract money from the government for the construction of a new Yeshiva. When her lover is killed in a suicide bombing, however, long stifled emotions come to the surface and she is forced to deal with the conflicts of her life in an uncompromising manner..

    There are no entirely sympathetic characters in Avanim. The father is wearing ethical blinders and the husband seems unconscious of his wife's emotional needs. While Michale is more sympathetic, she rebels in covert ways without openly communicating her feelings to her family or considering the emotional consequences of her behavior for her son. For example, she stays out all night without telling anyone where she is while her husband and father are understandably frantic. While Asi Levi delivers a strong performance as the restless, dissatisfied housewife, the script never crystallizes the issues and, in spite of a melodramatic ending, lacks an emotional payoff.
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Assi Levy Assi Levy - Michale
    Uri Gavriel Uri Gavriel - Meir
    Florence Bloch Florence Bloch - Nehama Tinski
    Shaul Mizrahi Shaul Mizrahi - Gabai
    Danny Steg Danny Steg - Shmoulik
    Gabi Amrani Gabi Amrani - Rav Ozeri
    Eli Eltonyo Eli Eltonyo - Gabriel
    Metanel Ziv Metanel Ziv - Nathi
    Sarah Adler Sarah Adler - Lili
    Simon Tobi Simon Tobi - Simon
    Issac Heskia Issac Heskia - Gur
    Lana Ettinger Lana Ettinger - Orit
    Reuven Dayan Reuven Dayan - Shimon
    Gera Sandler Gera Sandler - Yoni
    Jeannine Molho Jeannine Molho - Rahel
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