No Yana among thieves
When her husband pulls a scam and disappears from their new home, the Russian immigrant Yana has to fend for herself in a comically uptight Israeli neighborhood in "Yana's Friends."
By JOSHUA TANZER
"Yana's Friends" is a mild but pleasing immigrant story set in Israel during the Gulf War. As the Scud missiles land with a thud from Baghdad, so do the Jewish refugees from Moscow.
The wide-eyed new arrival Yana and her husband move into a modest apartment shared with another couple the landlady's layabout son, Eli, and his girlfriend of the moment. The newly arrived couple exult in the happiness of their new home in their new country with government benefits and a baby on the way, but Yana is soon to get an education in the male of the species, Western style.
|Directed by: Arik Kaplun.|
Written by: Arik Kaplun, Simeon Vinokur.
Cast: Evelyn Kaplun, Nir Levi, Shmil Ben-Ari, Moscu Alcalay, Dalia Friedland, Vladimir Friedman, Israel Demidov, Lena Sachanova, Jenya Fleisher, Eviatar Lazar, Lucy Dubinchik.
In Russian and Hebrew with English subtitles.
Before long, her husband has pulled a scam that leaves her all alone in thousands of shekels worth of debt with no way back home and no one to turn to.
At this point the movie could turn heavyhanded, but it doesn't at all in fact, it's gently comedic and quite enjoyable. Yana, as you might guess, finds herself drawn toward Eli, though she's also taken aback when she discovers a connection between his part-time photography work and his succession of girlfriends. It takes an extraurdinary event to bring them humorously together, and even then, it's not clear whether they're for each other or just another fling.
Meanwhile, there are amusing goings-on at the neighbors' place across the hall, where another Russian family has discovered that they can make a living by pinning war medals on their senile old man and leaving him out on the street in his wheelchair all day with a cup in his lap. This old-timer may be bedridden and incoherent but there are surprising things happening all around him one of which, as the film is nearing its conclusion and the family is about to give up and move to America, made me feel good about the whole movie, turning an amusing but slightly bland story into a winning experience.
|OCTOBER 13, 2001|
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