‘Blush’ Review: A Vibrant Coming Out Debut

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“Blush” is perhaps not the most apposite English-language title for writer-director Michal Vinik’s fresh, frank look at coming out and coming of age in contemporary Israel: It’s a film that shows little shyness in tackling a variety of sexual, political and domestic tensions.

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The Israeli adolescence drama, “Blush,” presents a young love story between two high school girls who discover themselves as lesbians while traveling inward to the heart’s inclination and out through nightclubs of Tel Aviv, sex and drugs. The film was directed by Michal Winik, whose script was based on her personal experiences. Michal Vinikʼs directorial debut is full of intensity and is somewhat reminiscent of Deniz Gamze Ergüvenʼs Mustang and Abdellatif Kechicheʼs Blue Is the Warmest Color in its exploration of youth culture, religion and love. The film not only follows the romantic relationship between teenagers Naama and Dana, but also speaks to a wider audience by looking at the tensions between the Jewish and Muslim populace. At first glance, Naama Barash looks like a typical seventeen-year old girl. Living with her very conservative parents is arduous and she therefore harbours a rebellious nature that is pushed to the extreme when she meets a new girl at school named Dana Hershko. Dana is everything Naama is not. She hangs out solely with boys and has tattoos and bleached blonde hair. The two girls rapidly form an affectionate relationship, which further deepens into love. On the other hand, we also learn that Naamaʼs older sister, Liorna, has gone missing from her military base camp and her disappearance instigates continuous bickering in the household of the devastated Barash family.

The plot describes the family’s attempt to locate their missing daughter – a search that reaches an Israeli arab town “Kafr Qasem”, which Rumor has it that Liora is there with her Arab friend – and her first great love. The object of her love is Dana (Jade Skuri), a new student in her school, full of the blonde glamorous glamor of punk color (one side of her head shaved, a fashionable feature that will even be used as a plot element).

Blush

While we empathise with Naamaʼs need for escape–as she incessantly follows Dana to Tel Aviv, where they spend the night drinking, clubbing and taking drugs–we are left with a perpetual feeling of guilt and remorse. By contrasting the young and decadent generation with the older and conventional generation, Vinik’s feature manages to trigger a sense of awareness and social responsibility from its viewers. Although we know that we are not to be blamed for the actions of Naama and her friends, we cannot help but feel utterly hopeless as the situation unfolds before us. There is a sense of urgency in wanting to change things, as well as a need to help our protagonist during her difficult times. However, we are completely powerless in the face of Naamaʼs substance abuse and subsequent heartache when Dana abandons her.

On the one hand, this is the story of a family in crisis; On the other hand, this is a film about the first love that was discussed around heartbreak.Vinik tries to connect these two stories; To describe how Na’ama’s attraction to Dana is related to her existential detachment from her family and perhaps also from the place where she lives; But the connection, even if we are supposed to contain it conceptually, does not work in practice.

Watch Blush on FilmDoo now (Available in selected territories)

 

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