Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ha-Buah/The Bubble [gay love in times of war?]

"We all live in a bubble."

That's probably the one line that you retain from Eytan Fox's Ha-Buah or The Bubble (2006). "We all live in a bubble," that's the only line that you retain, I said, but then there are so many other images that you retain as well. Sounds and images transpire from the screen and stitch themselves on your skin, tie themselves around your toes while they lick your arm-pit and shroud your hair with a netted hat. You watch the film, and the next day, you wake up with a body and a mind that's no longer the same; a mind that is stomach-full with "food for thought" (probably the only other phrase that you retain from the film.)

So that's how it was: Reena (who wrote something about the film here) has been telling me about it for a long time. Last night we watched it. Today, I woke up with marble-eyes that seem to filter the world out and indulge in a bubble.

So in short, The Bubble is a film by Eytan Fox that's mostly in Hebrew (with some Arabic and English) and that explores the trope of same-sex love in the background of war: in this case the love between a Palestinian refugee and his Israeli lover all set to a background people of my generation have literally grown up with. In terms of technique, the film has a Dogme 95 touch of rawness that combines documentary with fiction, hand-held cameras, limited make-up etc. (Quite interestingly, the only times we have a zoom in any of the shots is when one of the characters is holding a camera and that we get the point of view of what the camera is shooting. Trivia, I know, but I found that interesting.)

Anyway, the entire production has an intense touch of the raw, and yet, a delightful one. The cinematography has the "explosive" impact (expression taken from the film) that only alternative or what is called "third-world cinema" can bring to your attention. The music is ethereal, yet very raw. The plot, often described as a gay and Israeli version of Sex and the City (I don't necessarily agree) is light, it takes in the music and draws it in and out like an embroidery, it has a claim of always attempting to be apolitical while thrusting the reality of world politics at your face and the love story is a simple one: a tale of deep love (you can't trivialize it and you can't glorify it either.) The cultural references range from Boyzone, Britney Spears, Michel Foucault and Judith Butler (which I found thoroughly entertaining.)

Since I am on the subject of the movie, I agree with Reena when she says (here) that one of the most beautiful scenes of the film is when the Palestinian boy asks the Israeli boy to fuck him as he sings Tim Buckley's Song to the Siren. This being said, there are a few other scenes from this film that were so well made that they are likely to flash into my mind for years altogether.

In terms of a sub-text, I read tales of childhood into the film, but when it comes to the text, the film weaves the story of love and war, while at the same time attempting to be apolitical. I see the purpose of seeing such a film within an apolitical frame as what adds the enjoyable dimension to the narrative all the way through to its concluding scene: It is time to move beyond wars and politics... To just love. Love, simply love.

I realized that my favorite same-sex love films so far have been the ones set in the background of war. There's been so much coming from Eastern Europe and the Middle East over the past few years. Am I just another sucker for war romance or do those representations allow me to see beyond the trauma of war in relation to same-sex love? I guess somewhere, such narratives bring back the idea of "displaced mysogyny" as they fascinate me: Is love between races (as "polluting" a pure race) the same as love between same-sexes (as preventing the purity of the race to proliferate)?

But may be I'm digressing. To conclude, if you get the chance, watch it. It is indeed a beautiful film.

We all live in a bubble...

1 comment:

Michael said...

You've built it up majorly! I do hope it lives up to my now high expectations. I'm going to go search for it...

You mentioned many same-sex love films. Which stand out? Though I know I shouldn't be concerned with the sex, I really do like to sit down to a good same-sex film every once in a while, except that they're increasingly difficult to find. Particularly good ones.