|BONJOUR MONSIEUR SHLOMI
The titular hero of the sweet, slight Israeli film BONJOUR MONSIEUR SHLOMI is a teenager
(well played by Oshri Cohen) who struggles in school, copes with raging hormones (he wants to "upgrade"
his relationship with hisgirlfriend) and spends time playing peacemaker in his fractious family. After a day
at school, he rushes home to care for his infirm grandfather (Arieh Ellias) who regales his grandson with
tales of how he saved former Prime Minister Menachem Begin's life while fighting partisans in Tokyo,
makes dinner for the family, deals with his spoiled older brother Doron (Yonathan Rozen), a wannabe
musician with a vivid imagination, and soothes his hypersensitive mother Ruhama (Esti Zakheim). Shlomi's
parents have separated over the infidelities of his hypochondriac father (Albert Iluz), and once again, the
teen serves as the balm to the prickly relationship between his parents. Shlomi is forever cooking meals
and making beautifully decorated cakes and star-shaped cookies that could be sold in an upscale bakery.
The back story for these characters is interesting and informs much of what is onscreen. Doron
underwent a kidney transplant with his mother serving as a donor. This explains some of his spoiled nature
as his parents indulged and overprotected him during his illness. Ruhama and Robert separated over his
affair with her best friend, and since then Ruhama denounces Morrocan Jews, despite the fact that her own
family is from Rabat. Shlomi has undergone test for his learning disability and perhaps may be dyslexic.
Frustrated with his life, at the age when teenage rebelliousness kicks in, Shlomi develops a crush on the
"older" (all of 18) woman Rona (Aya Koren) who happens to live across the way. Complicating matters
is that Rona is purportedly the girlfriend of Doron's best friend.
Things begin to change for Shlomi when a concerned teacher discovers that the boy is something
of a math genius. Called to meet with the principal (Assi Cohen), Shlomi is convinced he's about to be
kicked out of school. Instead, the principal takes an interest in the boy and even arranges for him to visit
a special school in Haifa where he might realize his true potential. At first, Shlomi resists, but gradually he
decides he wants to attend the school -- that is, if his parents will agree. Armed with newfound
self-confidence, fueled in part by his relationship with Rona, Shlomi moves toward self-discovery.
BONJOUR MONSIEUR SHLOMI has some wonderfully comic moments, many of which
are provided by his oddball family. It also treats his burgeoning romance with Rona with dignity and not
for cheap thrills. The performances are all fine and the direction of screenwriter Shemi Zahrin is assured.
There's an occasional misstep, (e.g., a rather odd dream sequence that breaks the mood comes immediately
to mind), and there's the requisite happy ending brought about by a somewhat predictable tragedy. But in
the end, BONJOUR MONSIEUR SHLOMI accomplishes what it sets out to do.
MPAA Rating: NONE
Running time: 94 mins.
In Hebrew with English subtitles
Viewed at Magno Review Two
|© 2008 by C.E. Murphy. All Right Reserved.