Good Will Shlomi

in 20th Festroia International Film Festival

by Marina Drozdova

This is a clever and profound comedy in which the events are unraveling smoothly and happen in unpredictable ways. Shemi Zarhin is a born director. The main character is an Israeli teenager, Shlomi. He provides the main support for his family that slowly falls into entropy as it often happens with big families.

Shlomi possesses the miraculous gift of infinite kindness. After school he effortlessly and with good humor takes care of his grandpa who very rarely gets out of his wheelchair and loves to tell stories about his military past. Meanwhile Shlomi cooks dinner which is not a routine task for him since he is a real cook by nature. At the same time Shlomi makes sure that his older brother — a real playboy — takes his pills (as a result of a complicated surgery he had as a child). Shlomi also offers his help as a babysitter for his sister’s twins. Even more important is his role as a medium for the whole family whose members prefer to communicate with each other through him even when they gather around the dinner table.

The reason for this is that they cannot do it directly — each communication leads to a fight. Besides, the mother kicked the father out some time ago, after she caught him cheating her. In his turn, the father maintains that he is not at fault — his body is which his mind sometimes fails to control.

Shlomi’s sister is every other day trying to leave her husband because he is too involved in porno-sites. The brother plays the electric guitar — in other words is getting on everybody’s nerves. The mother is constantly positioning herself as a total victim who everyone is indebted to due to her continuous suffering.

But Shlomi is always serene — even when he falls in love with the charming independent neighbor girl. Their love story is evolving according to sincere sentimental clichés — he gives her the cakes that he bakes himself, she gives him the flowers that she grows.

Further on we learn that there is more about Shlomi than just his peacemaking efforts. One of his unfinished school tests, that was crumpled and thrown away, makes his teacher think that besides being a gourmet cook and a family man Shlomi is extremely gifted academically. Only, Shlomi is not interested in his talents — he is obviously more focused on being in harmony with his inner self.

It is amazing how delicately and skillfully the director manipulates this Renaissance character against the background of a standard middle class family. The director and his character admirably maneuver over the abyss that lies underneath any discussion involving the subject of super heroism or the wholesomeness of a non-personality.

In the movie “Good Will Hunting”, whose themes could be traced in this gracious comedy about Shlomi, this topic was treated as dramatic thriller, and the concept of envy became the main performer. The Israeli director offers a different treatment of the same subject. In his version the only real use for a super hero is to act as a mediator — someone who passes on the information to different characters. In an interesting twist, McLuhan’s thesis message is a media in a circular way arrives at a conclusion that the best media is a person, who is endowed with the best human quality — kindness.

At the same time the movie could be perceived as a metaphor for a recent history of Israel. Or rather to what it is willing for as the main miracle — peace. The theme of history in presented in the movie by the grandfather cared for by Shlomi. The grandfather uses a hit phrase that he keeps repeating — “it’s enough for me of…” — and you can complete this phrase with any subject or concept. Except for the blue sky, the only thing that this veteran is not tired of. He died looking into this eternal blue — probably like one of his comrades fighting for their country. Tranquility (symbolized by the sky) is unreachable. But it can become a special gift or a miracle. And this is where, on the sidelines of a everyday comedy, we notice the trace of a philosophical essay.