There's no room in Nir Bergman's Israeli family drama for the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Wrapped up in their fraught emotions, petty arguments, and family feuds, the characters of "Broken Wings" have enough troubles without brooding over the ups and downs of Middle Eastern politics.
Left without a husband or father following a family bereavement, the Ulmans are struggling to stay together in the northern Israeli city of Haifi.
Mother Dafna (Orly Zilberschatz-Banai) is working double shifts, leaving eldest daughter Maya (Maya Maron) torn between following her musical dreams and looking after the rest of the family. It's an impossible combination to juggle, and sooner or later something's got to give...
As its title suggests, this intimate film is a story of frustrated dreams. Approaching the family's unremarkable life with careful delicacy, Bergman extracts marvellous performances from his cast, not least of all Maya Maron as the slacker teenager who's forced to skip her adolescence for the sake of her younger siblings.
Teasing out the gender issues behind the drama - Maya's not the oldest child, but as a girl she's made to shoulder the responsibilities - Bergman gives his characters an impressive fragility. He also finds unexpected potential in the slightest of sequences, from Dafna's half-hearted trip to a video dating agency to the youngest boy's disastrous obsession with jumping into empty swimming pools.
Setting its sights low, "Broken Wings" never reaches beyond the confines of this troubled family and their everyday woes. Yet as the mournful strains of Maya's song for her dead father flood the soundtrack, it's apparent that this is the film's greatest strength.
Focusing on the interrelationships between the bickering children and their exhausted mother, Bergman's film possesses a vibrant dramatic confidence that many, more ambitious, first features often fail to deliver.
In Hebrew with English subtitles.