“BLUSH”— Feeling the Pressure

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“Blush” (“Barash”)

Feeling the Pressure

Amos Lassen

Naama Barash (Sivan Noam Shimon) isn’t like other 17-year-old Israeli girls. She likes alcohol and uses drugs and hangs out with others who do the same. She does this to escape from her home where her parents constantly fight and her sister, who is in the Israeli Defense Forces, has disappeared. When, Dana Hershko (Jade Sakori), a new girl shows up at her school, Barash falls in love with her and the relationship is so intense that it confuses her but it also gives meaning to her life.

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The first feature-length film by Israeli director Michal Vinik is about Israel’s alienated youth. Barash feels the pressure of her sister’s disappearance and her parents’ fighting so she was ripe for a new person entering her life. At first this intensity confuses her.

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We follow Naama as she befriends Dana, who introduces her to recreational drug use, hitchhiking, Tel Aviv nightclubs and lesbian sex. Naama eagerly soaks up and enjoys these new experiences her school friend has to offer and not surprisingly falls head over heels for Dana, who, ends up dumping her after breaking her heart and triggering painful but necessary emotional growth, self-awareness, and the issues that are part of coming-of-age.

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The sex scene between Naama and Dana, stopping short of total explicitness, but probably as graphic as it gets for an Israeli film. It is an exploration of teenage desire that is tries very hard to convey the emotions of the two female characters.

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Clueless, prejudiced Gideon (Dvir Benedek) gives us a look at his paranoia and mistrust towards Arabs, and a hint of hope in the generational differences in Israel. In fact, Israeli-Palestinian tensions deepen and complicate the more familiar coming-out subject of the film.

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Naama’s early signs of non-conformity (like the serpentine tattoo on her shoulder ) are kept neatly concealed from authority figures at home and at her school, where students are ironically drilled to salute their country’s independence while being afforded none of their own. Naama’s infatuation may not be wholly reciprocated, but emerges as an expression of self. Naama did not dare to come out to her parents. There is also unexpected comedy in the film. This is basically a film about doing what you can, sometimes inelegantly, to make yourself heard.

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