“Barash” is an edgy Israeli film about two enamored teenage girls

on

It’s official: Israeli teenagers are too cool for us all. At least the teens in writer/director Michal Vinik’s Barash are. Seriously, this movie bleeds cool in a way a lot of American indies only wish they could. But the coolest part? Watching two angsty teenage girls fall for each other.

_MG_9522

Naama Barash (Sivan Noam Shimon) is 17 and living in her older sister’s shadow at home and hanging out in the shadows with her friends at school. Outside of trying to score more drugs, life is pretty quiet until she runs into a strange girl in the school bathroom–Dana (Jade Sakori). Naama can’t help but stare at her, what with her piercings and shaved side, and Dana can’t help calling her out on it. It’s a pretty combative first meeting, but the two have to play nice when Naama’s friends invite Dana to hang.

These girls do a lot of drugs, and Dana knows how to get the good stuff. She gives off this air of having done and seen a lot in her young life, and Naama’s definitely intrigued. Soon they’re spending some one-on-one time together.

When Naama finally asks Dana why she hasn’t seen her around school before, she finds out Dana’s been dealing with some family issues of her own. Instead of making a big deal about it, Naama makes light of the situation. And just when you start thinking that might not have been the right move, Dana pushes her up against a tree and kisses her. They kiss at length and even hug. They’d punch me for saying this, but the whole thing is super adorable.

It’s not, however, Dana’s first tango. She quickly brings Naama into the gay bar life–club drugs and all. Dana’s ex is around too. She’s a slightly older power lesbian you just know is going to be trouble later. But this doesn’t stop Dana from freely showing Naama affection or Naama from loving every bit of it.

Naam & Hershko

Actually, she loved it a little too much. Luckily she’s got Dana to use as a walking stick. Assisting a wasted Naama home, Dana tries to snatch some important information out of her (ugh, don’t you hate it when people do that?). So, does Naama sleep with women too? Naama’s response is perfect for Naama: “I sleep with whoever I want, whenever I want, however I want.” 

Well, the natural response to that is to test that claim. On a separate, less wasted occasion (I don’t think there’s ever a moment where they’re not at least slightly under the influence), they start getting hot and heavy. It’s very easy on the eyes. And then Naama giggles. Yeah, mood killer. She just thinks it’s so funny. But when she looks to Dana for backup, she simply responds, “No.” There’s so much conviction in her voice, and I love it.

That sobers Naama up, who apologizes, admits she’s not used to this, and then takes the lead! Unfortunately, she does so with the finesse and speed of a teenage boy, and it’s bad. Dana doesn’t laugh her out of the room though and instead takes the lead herself. And now we’re getting somewhere. Suffice it to say, Naama walks home that night with a look on her face that screams “well-fucked.”

From there they flirt openly at school, make out heavily in public buses, and continue to get spaced out in gay bars. They’re really cute together. But there’s a lot going on for both of them in the background and simplicity has its limits. Dana’s mom is institutionalized, her manipulative ex is still in the picture, and she in a lot of ways is a self-destructive, insecure young woman. For her part, Naama’s enamored like she’s never been before and balancing that with her family drama.

scene-62-(63)

And on that note, what a pleasant surprise those scenes with her family are. A pivotal subplot in Barash is Naama’s family life and the search for her missing sister. Amazingly, there isn’t one mundane scene. What’s more, for Naama family life is a separate reality from what’s going on with her and Dana. I mean really, how do you even begin to tell your parents you’re in love with a girl when your sister is missing? This subplot also provides a great opportunity for Vinik to highlight some of the internal prejudices currently present in Israel.

I found Barash to be a really enjoyable film. It’s effortlessly modern, with an awesome soundtrack and likable characters. Moreover, it’s a unique offering amongst lesbian cinema today. I can’t help but hope we see the releases of more films in the same vein.

Barash will be playing in Sydney, Australia on February 25 and April 3 as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival. Check with your local LGBT film festival to find out when it’ll be playing near you.

More you may like