A beautifully strange movie, Jellyfish - from the Israeli author, and now director, Etgar Keret - tracks the perambulations of three Tel Aviv women. Though they are unrelated, and their paths cross by chance, they share a common bond: a profound sense of disconnection - from family, from loved ones, from themselves.
The mesmerizing Sarah Adler is Batya, a young woman whose boyfriend has left her, and whose job as a catering waitress falls apart when she takes in a lost girl (Nikol Leidman) discovered walking on the beach.
Noa Knoller stars as Karen, a new bride whose insecurity manifests itself in a compulsive unease, and in a jealous mistrust of her husband, Michael (Gera Sandler).
And Ma-nenita De Latorre portrays Joy, a domestic worker who doesn't speak Hebrew, and who has left her son behind in her native Philippines.
Jellyfish is shot with a dreamy lucidity, and has a playfulness about it that produces surprises big and small, in both the storytelling and the images. When a comic catastrophe befalls Karen at the wedding party, she and Gera are forced to abandon their Caribbean honeymoon and book a room at a rundown beachfront hotel. There Michael meets Malka (Zharira Charifal), a writer camping out in the penthouse suite. A curious relationship develops between the groom and the attractive older woman.
Visually, Jellyfish, which won the 2007 Camera d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, is subtly surreal, full of grace and a gentle loopiness. A photograph of a seaside ice cream vendor suddenly takes on a life of its own; an airplane arcing across the sky reappears, like a toy's shadow, on the wall of a hospital room.
Keret's books include the collections The Nimrod Flipout and Missing Kissinger. Last year's wittily morbid Wristcutters: A Love Story was adapted from a Keret story. And with Jellyfish he and his partner, Shira Geffen - the duo share writing and directing credit here - have produced a little piece of cinematic poetry.
Fractured by failed friendships and bad childhoods, the women in Jellyfish set about mending themselves, each in their own way, in the light of the bright sun, or in a sudden burst of rain. The memories are painful, but the future holds promise - perhaps.
Jellyfish ***1/2 (out of four stars)
Directed by Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen. With Sarah Adler, Ma-nenita De Latorre, Noa Knoller and Nikol Leidman. Distributed by Zeitgeist Films. In Hebrew with subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour, 18 mins.
Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (adult themes)
Playing at: Ritz at the BourseEndText