When 39 year old twice-divorced El-Al flight attendant Miri Kalderon (Mili Avital) returns home from a flight, she is exhausted. But there's chaos around her. Her sister Gila (Anat Waxman) is fighting for a divorce from her husband Izzi (Alon Aboutboul) and her Chinese maid suddenly disappears, leaving behind her six-year-old boy (BaoQi Chen).
Review by Louise Keller:
The adorable 6 year old Chinese boy with the face of a little angel is not the only one who is lost in this heart-warming story in which he becomes inadvertently separated from his mother. Director writer Ayelet Menahemi's story is one that examines the universal good shown by strangers, transcending language or culture. The way the story evolves is as surprising as the way it begins, when Mili's air hostess Mira suddenly finds herself responsible for a little boy with whom she cannot communicate. From 'a little alien' to a precious part of her family, little does Mira realise the impact the child will have on her life. It's an enjoyable feel-good story that builds up slowly but delivers plenty of emotional zing with a joyous pay-off that takes us as high as the plane that travels from Tel Aviv to Beijing.
BaoQi Chen, who plays the little boy nicknamed 'Noodle' and was apparently one of two thousand children who auditioned for the role, is a great find and delivers a wonderfully natural performance. Moments like that scene in a Chinese restaurant in which Noodle demonstrates the correct way to eat noodles with chopsticks, including the appropriate slurp at the right moment, endear us to him, and the key moment when he falls asleep in Mira's lap makes our heart melt. He is without doubt, the heart of the film, although the entire cast is terrific. Mili Avital plays Mira, the elegant airhostess whose life has been punctuated by loss and as a consequence blocks all possibilities for happiness. There is a certain simplicity with which she explains the loss of her two husbands (with gestures and no words) and an astute understanding, when Noodle opens his eyes wide, nods and enunciates 'oh'. Anat Waxman is Gila, the emotionally volatile older sister who hides her insecurities and a secret; Alon Aboutboul plays Izzi, Gila's ever-patient estranged husband, who is obviously in love with Mira. Mira's chance meeting with Yiftach Klein's well known author Mati Gueta, who happens to speak Chinese, may be a tad coincidental on reflection, but it is a small glitch in an otherwise well-oiled wheel.
Menahemi allows the relationship between Noodle and Mira to develop slowly, which adds credibility and additional impact once the bond has been forged. The question then becomes what to do with the child and how to solve the problem of his illegal migrant mother, who has in all probability been deported. Suddenly, Mira comes up with a daring plan and the execution is both edgy and thrilling, involving all the key players. It's no wonder this crowd-pleasing film won six awards at the Israeli Film Academy including Best Film, Best Director and two Best Actress awards. It's the kind of film that reinforces all the good things about human nature, instead of those which make us shake our heads in disappointment.
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CAST: Mili Avital, BaoQi Chen, Alon Abutbul, Sinaya Ben-Dor, Yiftach Klein, Daphna Shpigelman
PRODUCER: Assaf Amir, Yoav Toeh
DIRECTOR: Ayelet Menahemi
SCRIPT: Ayelet Menahemi, Shemi Zarhin
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Itzik Portal
EDITOR: Einat Glaser-Zarhin
MUSIC: Haim Frank Ilfman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ido Doley
RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Potential
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney, Melbourne: June 18, 2009; Brisbane, Adelaide: July 2, 2009