Sun 6 Oct 2013
The popular comedies mixed with Mediterranean melodramas got a name of their own in the Israeli cinema of the 70s: ‘bourekas movies’. ‘Bourekas’ are the local flavor of the Turkish pastries. The genre was dominant while the Israeli cinema was in its teens age, decreased in popularity with the maturity but never really died. We may find traces of it in some of the more recent successes, and with ‘Hunting Elephants’ which combines the genre with the bank robbery and the more recent ‘retired actors playing retired gangsters’ international genre, it generates a film which is at many moments very fun to watch.
Much of the story actually takes place in a retirement house where two veteran fighters from the time of the underground independence movement (played by Moni Mosonov and Sasson Gabai) are joined by one of their Brit arch-enemies (and yet family to one of them, and yet a lord, and yes – Patrick Stewart) and by a teen kid in a plot to rob a bank. If the premises seem a little fantasist, I need to say that the script has the unexpected quality of making them almost credible. The old men have the passion of proving once again that their lives fit to the values they fought for in a world that changed. The Brit has his own moral and material reasons. The intellectually super-gifted kid is bullied at school and must do something to revenge the death of his father and save the honor of his mother. There is an evil system (the banks) to fight and an evil person (the bank manager – Moshe Ivgy) to punish. All fits.
The three lead actors are big stars of the Israeli film and stage. It’s fun to see them acting especially that some of the lines are really funny. In many moments the film compares well with such famous international productions like ‘Space Cowboys’ in the ‘old boys’ genre. Director Reshef Levi‘s lack of experience with sustaining the pace and avoiding some repetitions and building up for the actions scenes is however felt. In a bank robbery movie the robbery scene is the key and peak of the interest. Here it is repeated – maybe by design, maybe by coincidence – without adding consistent comic or action value, more in order to justify an ending which is good to the heroes and within the limits of some morality. This does not work well, and this is the main reason the film is in my opinion not a big success but only a nice try.