An uncommonly powerful film, Broken Wings captures a family in mid-disintegration: A midwife at an Israeli hospital struggles to hold her children together in the wake of their father's death. Maya, a gaunt, pale young ... more »woman, aspires to win a band contest; Ido, a boy bullied at school, tries to film himself jumping from heights; Yair, a teenage boy, wallows in the meaninglessness of existence as he hands out flyers, dressed in a mouse costume. This may sound tedious or excruciating, but it's given vivid life by an incredible cast and a humor that manages to be absurd and a little sad at the same time. The movie embraces its characters with a profound empathy; it's hard to imagine that anyone could watch Broken Wings and not be deeply moved by the end. Not surprisingly, the movie has won numerous awards at film festivals around the world. --Bret Fetzer« less
S. Calhoun | Chicago, IL United States | 08/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Nine short months after the sudden death of the father the Ulman family psychologically resides in the deep crevices of pain, sorrow and mourning. Juggling her job as a midwife and taking care of her four children Dafna has barely enough time or opportunity to grieve. Each child is also struggling in their own manner with their father's death that has threatened to break apart the bonds of their family.
This film is beautiful and realistic in the manner of how each character's pain is portrayed. Even though they reside under the same roof each is dealing with their own sphere of remorse. I was greatly moved by the grief that they endured. The father's death itself is rarely mentioned and the exact details of the tragedy are not revealed until towards the end.
Although this film is set in the port city of Haifa, Israel there were no mention of politics, which was quite strange since it seems that everything I hear or see concerning Israel is associated with world political affairs. For this reason alone I found this film to be refreshing as it showed the lives of "normal" Israelis away from the newspaper headlines. Recommended."
An amazing film experience
Howard Schumann | Vancouver, B.C. | 07/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The trauma that accompanies the sudden loss of a beloved family member is being repeated all over the Middle East today. Behind the headlines are the stories we never read about. One of these is told metaphorically in Nir Bergman's brilliant first effort Broken Wings. It is not an overtly political film, but the implications are clear. Set in the Israeli port city of Haifa, it depicts the effect of the loss of a patriarch on each member of his family, perhaps suggesting the emotional state of Israel since the murder of Yitzhak Rabin. The 83-minute film won accolades at the Berlin International Film Festival and has been a huge critical and commercial success in Israel, winning nine Israeli Academy Awards in 2003.
The beautifully expressive Maya Maron, in her first major role, plays an Israeli teenage singer-songwriter (also named Maya) who dreams of becoming a rock star, and wears wings when she sings in her local band. As the film opens, Maya is singing a song she wrote in memory of her father who died suddenly nine months earlier, for reasons not disclosed until the end of the film. Her song is interrupted when her mother Dafna (stage actress Orly Zilberschatz Banai), a nurse, phones and tells her that she has been called to work on the night shift at the local hospital and needs Maya home to take care of her brother Ido and sister Bahr. Maya emphatically refuses, then relents, but the tension between mother and daughter is palpable.
The young woman, who was with her father when he died, does not fully grasp the guilt behind her bottled-up rage, and takes out her anger on her mother, who is both sympathetic and irritating as she labors wearily to keep the family from a collision course. We learn that each family member is suffering the father's loss in his or her own way. Dafna stayed in bed for three months, leaving the children to do the parenting, and the results are reflected in their erratic behavior. Six-year old Bahr wets her bed and Ido carries out a strange ritual of filming himself while jumping into an empty pool. The oldest brother Yair (Nitai Gaviratz), also a teenager, has been suspended from school, and hands out leaflets on commuter trains dressed in a mouse costume while expressing a nihilistic philosophy to anyone who will listen. His inability to respond to the words father, fear, and anger during a word association test prompts his school counselor to deny him re-admittance until he receives treatment, but he does not help his cause when he tells the counselor "Your words are meaningless. This conversation does not exist and you don't exist."
Yair tells Maya that "things could be worse," and they do get worse before they get better. Broken Wings may sound depressing, but in Bergman's skillful hands, its sadness is balanced with humor and the strength and dignity of its characters. Stylistically, the film doesn't break any new ground, but displays the kind of insight that allows us to learn something new about ourselves. Though rooted in reality, Broken Wings has a heart that leaps and a soul that soars, and it's a film that I truly loved. "
Moving family drama
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 01/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Broken Wings" is a poignant, slice-of-life drama about an Israeli family's coming to terms with the death of their father nine months earlier. The widow, Dafna, is a 43 year-old mother of four who works endless hours as a midwife at the local hospital, both to earn money to support her family as well as to avoid having to face the reality of the tragic loss she has suffered. For while she is a loving, devoted mother, she seems unable to provide the guidance and solace her children need in this time of incomprehensible grief and suffering. Thus, the children are left to cope more or less on their own as best they can - and this on top of all the problems young people face just doing the ordinary, day-to-day business of growing up. Her oldest son, Yair, has responded to his father's death by dropping out of high school and adopting a fatalistic philosophy, declaring that life is nothing more than a series of random events that mean nothing against the backdrop of an immensely vast, impersonal universe. The oldest daughter, 17 year-old Maya, has hopes of becoming a successful rock musician, but finds herself having to carry the burden of raising the two younger children while their absent mother spends most of her waking hours at work. The two youngsters, Ido and Bahr, cope with the loss of their father and the inadvertent neglect from their overworked mother in various and heartbreaking ways. The narrative is paced in such as way that we learn about the life of this family only through bits and pieces of carefully revealed information, with each scene exposing more and more about the people and their situation until ultimately a full picture emerges. In fact, it is a good half hour at least before we even know that the father is dead.
The movie takes a very low-keyed approach to its subject matter, showing, in an understated fashion, the devastating effect the death of a parent can have on a family unit. The film is filled with lovely little moments of humor, warmth and insight that draw us deeply into the drama. We see how each of the various characters responds to the situation and to each other, watching as the feelings of guilt, resentment and recrimination bubble to the surface. As a second crisis hits the family, a whole host of long-dormant feelings and emotions finally break out in open conflict. Yet, as with a wound that needs to be cauterized before it can heal, this second trauma proves to be the rupture the family needs to begin its process of recovery. The amazing thing is that writer/director Nir Bergman is able to do all this in an economical 82-minute running time. Yet, even with that limited length, the filmmaker captures the texture of the family members' daily lives through an impressive array of sharply drawn subsidiary characters who play an integral part in the central drama.
Bergman has also been blessed with first-rate actors in the primary roles. Orly Silbersatz Banai as Dafna, Maya Maron as Maya, and Nitai Gaviratz as Yair deliver, beautifully realistic, heartfelt performances. The other cast members are all excellent as well.
"Broken Wings" is a small, overlooked gem that gets to the heart of what it means to be a family. It would be a shame for anyone to miss it."
C. A. Davidson | VA | 08/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Its in Hebrew with English subtitles. Now that I have either your attention or dismission, let me begin. Nir Bergman directed this raw and touching film that crosses borders and languages with its relatability. The story could have taken place in any U.S. city, and probably has. The actors were great, particularly Orly Silbersatz Banai who played Dafna Ulman the mother, and Maya Maron who played Maya Ulman the daughter. (Who reminded me of Erin "Pixie" Cummins so much for some reason...) It's the tale of a widowed family and the hardships they encounter because of it. It's about strength and responsibility and understanding and forgiveness. It's about independence and family. It's about moving on when you need to and holding on when you should. It is an excellent film and a must see."
Marc Frontario | Orlando, Florida United States | 04/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At first the movie did not hook me, but as it went on I found the lead actress engaging. By the end of the movie I was completely in love with her. Her performance was as captivating as Keisha Castle in Whale rider or Audrey Tatou in Amelie.
What I enjoyed about the performances of all the actors is how effortlessly they completed their roles. This made the movie feel extremely real. Near the end the emotions held in check come cascading down and then finishes with a poignant uplifting ending. This special movie is a quiet gem and worth every minute of your time."