Live and Become (Menemsha Entertainment, NR)

| Print |

liveandbecome2.jpgThe strain of the deception weighs heavily on young Schlomo, who retreats into a silent ball of misery, punctuated by outbursts of violence. His life improves after adoption by a leftist French-Jewish couple, and gradually Schlomo comes out of his shell and starts to take part in life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

liveandbecome.jpg

Live and Become (Va, vis et deviens), the 2005 feature film by Romanian-French director Radu Mihaileanu, tells the story of an Ethiopian child (played convincingly by Moshe Agazai as a boy, Mosche Abebe as an adolescent, and Sirak M. Sabahat as a young adult) airlifted to Israel in 1985, as part of Operation Moses. The twist in this case is that the boy is not Jewish but an Ethiopian Christian whose mother put him on the airlift to save him from famine and civil unrest, not religious prejudice.

Theoretically, all human lives have equal merit, and all refugees are deserving of asylum. In the real world, however, charity is often practiced for political ends. The purpose of Operation Moses was to rescue Ethiopian Jews: the refugees are subjected to humiliating interrogations and those who can’t convince Israeli officials that they are Jewish are unceremoniously sent back where they came from. So passing as a Jew is a necessary survival strategy for the young refugee. He adopts the identity of a Jewish child who died, memorizing a false family history and adopting the Hebrew name Schlomo.

The strain of the deception weighs heavily on young Schlomo, who retreats into a silent ball of misery, punctuated by outbursts of violence. His life improves after adoption by a leftist French-Jewish couple (Yael Abecassis and Roschdy Zem), and gradually Schlomo comes out of his shell and starts to take part in life. But Live and Become is no fairy tale: Israel’s initial enthusiasm at welcoming the Ethiopian Jews, also known as Falashas, soon wears down and they must cope with discrimination on two fronts. The government wants the Falashas to undergo a conversion ceremony, including symbolic re-circumcision, which they take as an insult to their long history of Judaism. Some Israelis of European descent also combine racial prejudice with the suspicion that the newcomers are really scam artists: parents at Schlomo’s school threaten to withdraw their children because they believe he will infect them with strange African diseases, and the father of one of his classmates expresses the belief that the Falashas “came here just to eat” rather than to live as Jews.

If Live and Become told only the story of Schlomo’s childhood and adolescence in Israel, it would have been a better movie. His struggles to find his way in the world, aided by his adoptive parents and the Ethiopian rabbi Qes Amhra, are entirely absorbing. Mihaileanu allows his this part of the story to unfold at a leisurely pace, beginning with an almost-wordless sequence in the refugee camp. Unfortunately, for some reason he felt compelled to follow Schlomo through to adulthood, including medical school and marriage, and the third section of the film is rushed and disorienting, as events fly rapidly by and the film hurtles to an entirely forced conclusion. Ending the story with Schlomo’s adolescence would also have made Live and Become a more reasonable length than its current 2 hours and 20 minutes. | Sarah Boslaugh

order sildenafil online

From the Archive

For the Couch

From the Theatre & Arts


Dirty-Dancing_75.gif
Monday, 27 October 2014 17:45
Midsummer-NIghts_75.gif
Monday, 27 October 2014 08:05
One-Man-Two-Guvnors_75.gif
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 21:43
Fiddler-on-the-Roof_75.gif
Saturday, 13 September 2014 14:36
Hello-DOLLY_75.gif
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 22:51