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September 20, 2006

Or (My Treasure)


Mon Tresor
Keren Yedaya - 2004
Kino Video Region 1 DVD

Or may be one of the bleakest films I've seen. Stylistically, the film could be described as Bressonian, with little camera movement, no music, shooting in what appears to be available light. Far from being the "land of milk and honey", Tel Aviv appears as a dark, dingy city of little promise and less opportunity.

Or is a teenage girl who lives with her mother, Ruthie. The two scrap along, with Or as the primary financial support, selling bottles to be recycled and working in a restaurant, in addition to going to school. It is gradually revealed that Ruthie has been working as a low-rent prostitute, continuing her trade in spite of Or's pleas for her to quit. Seemingly the more responsible of the two, Or is shown to be promiscuous. Whether out of simple economic need or because of her own sense of self-worth, Or decides to join an escort service, effectively following in her mother's path.

Keren Yedaya has mentioned that she sees the film both as speaking out against prostitution, as well as a parable about Israeli-Palestinian relations. While I don't feel that Or can easily be understood this way, it is clear that the film is about the gaze of the observer and the role sex plays as a tool of survival for women. Or is old fashioned feminist filmmaking, at least thematically, without the hectoring. The film is also about choices and consequences, about present needs subverting a more meaningful future.

Posted by peter at September 20, 2006 03:01 PM