Sunday, December 16, 2007

Best movie yet about an Israeli clairovoyant 14-year old girl

I'm watching a movie called "Saint Clara," from Israel. It's about a Russian girl named Clara in an Israeli high school who has the ability to tell the future, as kill she uses to tell all the other kids what problems are going to be on the math tests. Needless to say, the administration gets suspicious when every student in the school gets 100% on the test. The movie begins with an interrogation designed to expose the conspiracy.

And there is a conspiracy. A bald-headed punk-rock kid named Rosy and his two friends Tikel and Libby are using Clara to spread the answers to the test, something that another student reveals right away. But of course the attempt to figure out how she stole the answers doesn't get anywhere. But it's revealed early on that when Clara falls in love she will lose her power.

But that is only the start of this insane movie, which has a lot more going on than that. The main thing about the movie is that the dialogue is brilliant. Here's a sample, a conversation between the punk-rock kids who are spying on a siesmographic station (no, I don't know why):

"Why is is called the Monroe Seismographic Station?"
"Marilyn Monroe. He was Richter's whore. The guy who invented the seismograph."
"You know the scientists love it when there is an earthquake. The machines draw Marilyn Monroe naked. They tell how big the earthquake is by the size of her tits."

It's a very culty film, and a lot of it doesn't make much sense. It's violent and Jen considers some of it misogynist. It spends as much time on Rosy, Tikel and Libby than it does on Clara.

The movie is very much about power, failed dreams, exploitation and people who will never be satisfied with what they have and who they are. The movie doesn't directly adress any of the things most Americans think about when they think about Isreal, like the idea of the the holy land, the struggle with the Arabs and Palestinians for land or dealing with terrorism. Instead it's about the same thing that a lot of American movies are about: being a horny teenager, cometing for a girl, and the need to be prove you're better than everyone else.

But the movie addresses these questions in a way that no movie I have seen addresses them. There is a sense of being on the edge, of being willing to do anything that I don't see in even the most violent, intense American movies. A scene of Rosy smashing in a neon-lit store window for nothing more than a single chocolate truffle is, to me, the epitome of the film.

Oh, okay, now i get it. The seismographic station represents scientific rationality competing with Clara's supernatural power. I also just figured out that Libby is a girl. This is the sort of thing that happens when you blog a movie while you're watching it (the better part of a big bottle of Chimay doesn't help). But I'm not going to go back and edit.

What makes the movie brilliant is the combination of completely off-the-wall concepts with the elements of a run-of-the-mill teen romance. Rationalism versus Russian mysticism is undecided, but the right girl ends up with the right guy. I'm posting this with the Hebrew credits. Don't ask me if I regret it in the morning.

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