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Sony Pictures Classics

Official Site

Director: Nir Bergman

Producer: Assaf Amir

Written by: Nir Bergman

Cast: Orli Zilverschatz-Banay, Maya Maron, Nitai Gvirtz, Vladimir Freedman, Danny Niv, Dana Ivgy


Many emotional and poignant movies revolve around significant events, such as war (Life Is Beautiful) or overcoming an injustice (Remember The Titans). These events concern not only the main characters of the film, but have a large impact on the rest of the community. Broken Wings is not such a film. Instead, it centers on how the unexpected death of a husband and father, perhaps a quiet event to the rest of world, causes important consequences to the five family members he left behind.

The movie opens with the teenage girl Maya (Maron) rehearsing with her band during the Young Bands’ Competition. She calls her mother (Banay) to let her know how things are going, only to discover that her mother has been called in to work and she must come home immediately to baby-sit her younger siblings Ido (Daniel Magon) and Bahr (Eliana Magon). No matter that the band is about to go on stage, and that the rest of the members are dependent on her. Maya is torn between loyalty to her friends and to her family, but her sense of responsibility wins, and she takes off on her bike.

Thus begins our glimpse into the life of sacrifice that the Ulman family has to accept since the sudden and unexpected death of the man in their lives. As the oldest of four children, Maya essentially becomes the second parent, preparing lunches and making sure everyone is dressed and ready for school. This duty is especially heavy for Maya because her mother Dafna, a midwife at the local hospital, must now work extra shifts to compensate for the loss of income. Dafna is constantly tired, and though she tries the best she can, she cannot manage to bring the family together.

The rest of the family responds in different ways. The eldest son Yair (Gvirtz), still struggling with anger at his father’s abandonment, retreats into the belief that his life is just a speck of dust in the universe and nothing matters. He stops going to school, alienates his girlfriend, and dons a giant mouse mask to roam the subways and streets incognito. Younger son Ido deals with his emotions through art, sketching and videotaping himself. Youngest child Bahr seeks attention from her family, only to find that they are all busy coping with their own problems.

In the midst of this, Ido takes a severe fall which sends him to the hospital. For the rest of the film we observe how each member of the family handles this new crisis—whether it brings him or her closer to the family, or serves as a breaking point. Although the entire film is heartrending, the last third is especially powerful. Credit should be given to the cast for their wide display of emotional portrayals, and it already has, with Banai and Maron both receiving Israeli Film Academy Awards for their acting.

Though the emotions are realistic, the film can sometimes feel contrived and too “written.” For example, when Maya leaves the band competition, she is still wearing her costume—a pair of mesh wings—and by the time she arrives home, one of them is broken. There are also the frequent happenstance meetings between Dafna and Dr. Goldman (Freedman) at the hospital, who always seems to appear when Dafna is in trouble, to rescue her. These and other such moments are a reminder that this is a scripted movie, and they detract from the film’s ability to submerge the audience in the Ulmans’ world.

Broken Wings is in Hebrew with English subtitles.

—Kelly Hsu


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