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    Or (My Treasure)

    One "Or" in the water

    The Israeli film "Or," about a level-headed teenage girl who has to take responsibility for her messed-up prostitute mom, is too light on plot to support its weighty message.


    Earnest and, for at least its first half, plotless, "Or" drags us through the lives of two Israeli women in crisis.

    Directed by: Keren Yedaya.
    Written by: Sari Ezouz, Keren Yedaya.
    Cinematography: Laurent Brunet.
    Edited by: Sari Ezouz.
    In Hebrew with English subtitles.
    Walter Reade Theater Lincoln Center, 65th St. between Broadway and Amsterdam (212) 875-5600 Tue. Oct. 5, 6:00 pm Wed. Oct 6, 9:30 pm

    NY Film Festival 2004

     Bad Education
     House of Flying Daggers
     Infernal Affairs trilogy
     Look at Me
     Notre Musique
     Or (My Treasure)
    • Sideways
     Triple Agent
     Woman Is the Future of Man
     The World

     Official site
    Philadelphia Film Festival 2005
    • Overview

    • Official festival site

    • Clean
    • Crying Out Love in the Center of the World
    • Evilenko
    • Frozen

    • Machuca
    • Or (My Treasure)
    • Winter Solstice
    • Woman Is the Future of Man
    Ruthie is a tall, lanky, partially zombified prostitute for whom the term "high-class hooker" was invented to describe everything she isn't. Now 40-ish, she has reached the bottom of her profession, can't make enough to cover the rent anymore, and can't even persuade her potbellied landlord to accept sexual favors in place of cash "like we used to do."

    The only thing standing between Ruthie and complete deterioration is her teenaged daughter Or, who is clearly the adult in this two-person family, cleans Ruthie up when she comes home in a messed-up state, pressures her to quit the business, picks up her yeast-infection treatments, and even gets her mom a job housekeeping for a well-to-do family, despite her evident inexperience with the required skills. Ruthie says she wants to go straight, but needs to turn tricks just a little bit longer to pay the bills. In fact, she doesn't know any other life.

    Or, who has become an attractive, popular, black-haired, bushy-browed and buxom beauty in her teen years, helps keep the family afloat with her earnings from a takeout shop owned by her neighbor, and dates the neighbor's son Ido in the bargain.

    If there's one scene when the film gains focus and becomes more than just an aimless chronicle of day-to-day drudgery, it comes when Ido's mother stops by for a mom-to-mom kitchen-table conversation with Ruthie. She warns that the budding relationship between the two youngsters has to stop, and the conversation is heavy with the unspoken weight of differential status and class scorn. Ruthie is dumbstruck, because Or is such a mature, level-headed presence that it never seems to have occurred to her that the girl wouldn't be considered good enough for respectable society. More to the point, the neighbor's diplomatically stated dissection of Or is really aimed at Ruthie's own abundant inadequacies, and there's not much she can say without condemning herself. As the truth of this stealth attack sets in, mother and daughter each grapple with their stark, lower-class reality.

    Young actress Dana Ivgy deserves considerable credit for a brave and engaging performance as Or, and Ronit Elkabetz (previously seen in "Late Marriage") does a credible if intentionally dopey job as Ruthie. Director and co-writer Keren Yedaya, however, hasn't done enough to turn a concept into a movie. Until the kitchen-table confrontation, there's no sense of purpose to the story and little to involve the audience. The motivation behind the film — its message that poverty, prostitution and societal scorn are bad for women — is a little too programmatic, and there's not enough plot to hang that agenda on until very late in the proceedings.

    OCTOBER 2, 2004

    Reader comments on Or (My Treasure):

  • Release date   from Antxonio, Jan 7, 2005
  • Any update on english release date?   from Jay Lotfi, May 3, 2005
  • Re: Any update on english release date?   from Gossamerwings7, May 15, 2005
  • Film "Or" (My Treasure)   from Jerry Schimmel, Sep 2, 2007

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