August 14, 2009

הבן שלי / Impressions

The movie "HaBen Shelli" (My Son) by Jonathan Gurfinkel revolves around a father-son relationship. The father wants to see in his son the courage that he himself lacks.

Avi (Danny Steg) is divorced, works in the military and is afraid to leave the military for a civilian life. His 9 year-old son, Ron, loves and admires him. There is great collusion between father and son. Soon though, Ron is becoming afraid to go to school where he is the subject of bullying. He is very hesitant to tell his father of his fears because he knows Avi values courage and manly behavior above all. Indeed, when he does tell him, Avi ignores the call for help - and dismisses Ron's fears as out of place.

The film takes us through an excruciating escalation of events: Avi's blindness while his kid is being emotionally and physically abused in school; the mother's failed attempts to protect Ron from his father's influence; the kid's increasing distress until he is eventually so badly beaten by the bullies that there is no closing the eyes anymore from Avi.

The movie was so painful to watch for me because it shows a father full of love and good intentions for his son who is nevertheless destructive through principles he voices (behaving like a "real", tough man): the kid tries to stand up to his father's expectations even while the father's example is of someone who does not stand up to them.

The film ends on a positive note of hope with Avi finally freed from his military engagement, ready to start a small business and take his life in his hands. No doubt that is what, much more than words, can encourage his son to face up to the harsh world he discovers.

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