Director: Ruthy Pribar
Cast: Alena Yiv, Shira Haas, Tamir Mula, Gera Sandler, Eden Halili
Runtime: 85 minutes
Synopsis: Asia’s motherhood has always been an ongoing struggle rather than an obvious instinct. Becoming a mother very young has shaped Asia’s relationship with her teenage daughter Vika. Despite living together, Asia and Vika barely interact with one another. Asia concentrates on her job as a nurse while Vika hangs out at the skate-park with her friends. Their routine is shaken when Vika’s health deteriorates rapidly. Asia must step in and become the mother Vika so desperately needs. Vika’s illness turns out to be an opportunity to reveal the great love within this small family unit.
Israeli writer-director Ruthy Pribar’s debut film is an incredibly sensitive, if unsentimental, study of a mother-daughter relationship.
Asia premiered online at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), where it won the awards for Best Actress (Shira Haas), Best Cinematography (Daniella Nowitz) as well as the Nora Ephron Prize (Ruthy Pribar). After winning Best Picture at the 30th Israeli Academy Awards (Ophir Awards), it was automatically submitted as the Israeli entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards. The film won eight additional Israeli Academy Awards (Ophir Awards) out of a total twelve nominations, including both Best Leading Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
As in Nimrod Eldar’s recent, thoughtful feature debut, The Day after I’m Gone (2019), Ruthy Pribar’s compelling family communication drama is told in an insightful, unsensational way.
Russian Jewish incomer, Asia (Alen Yiv) had her daughter, Vika [a wonderful performance from Shira Haas – Unorthodox, (mini-series, Netflix, 2020)], now a teenager, when she was very young, and has raised her alone. Her Russian father didn’t want to sign the papers for his daughter to go to Israel, but he didn’t want to be a father either.
Though wary of men, Asia still looks for love in singles bars, while having an affair with a married doctor colleague. Vika, who suffers from a degenerative disorder, longs for love and sex, too, but is afraid she will die before she can experience it. As Vika’s condition deteriorates, Asia is determined to make the time they have left together as special and meaningful as it can possibly be.
Asia’s initial strained relationship with her terminally ill teenage daughter helps subvert the clichés of what could otherwise have been a melodramatic weepie. Ruthy Pribar’s compelling drama presents its title character as a woman filled with regret at the burden of parenthood. Asian comments to an elderly woman she is caring for:” I Thought it would be easier, I thought I would be better.”
Initially Asia seems to be acting as more of a contemporary of her 17-year-old daughter than her primary caregiver. The film isn’t afraid to explore the complex psychological impact of parenthood, and an unconventional decision Asia takes enlist a colleague, Gabi (Tamir Mula) to help with Vika, nor the hard work it takes to repair any resulting damage before it is too late.
Asia has outstanding ensemble performances in this powerful, unsentimental, top notch, intimate drama.
Streaming on Curzon Home Cinema
Images courtesy of Curzon Artificial Eye