Not to be confused with Steven Soderbergh's foray into day-and-date release, Eytan Fox's (Yossi & Jagger, Walk on Water) The Bubble explores the relationship between a Palestinian man and his Israeli lover. That in and of itself is bound to ruffle some feathers; but wait, there's more. They're both men. In light of the fact that anti-gay sentiment seems to be the only thing that Israeli and Muslim orthodoxies can agree on, things are bound to go well for our protagonists.
The bubble in question refers to the relatively unscathed Tel Aviv, where Noam (Ohad Knoller) lives with his roomates Yelli (Alon Friedman) and Lulu (Daniela Virtzer), all happily liberal Israelis protesting the occupation of Palestine. While on reserve duty at an Israeli/Palestinian checkpoint, Noam briefly meets Ashraf (Yousef "Joe" Sweid). When Ashraf shows up in Tel Aviv, he and Noam get their groove on. Noam and his roommates agree to help Ashraf live in Israel without papers, though Ahsraf must pretend to be Israeli to pull it off. Wackiness ensues. And by wackiness, I mean heartache and misery.
There actually is a lot of humor. When not confronting the horrors of the Isareli/Palestinian conflict, Noam and his crew live out an Israeli Reality Bites existence (with one straight roommate instead of one gay one), but writer/director Fox pulls no punches when it comes to showing how pointlessly bloody and hopeless life becomes when you're surrounded by people (or are in danger of becoming people) who want to kill each other, a lot.
All of the performances are sharp, with Virtzer in particular working from a complex emotional palette as her character tries to navigate heterosexual waters that are muddy even without the added complications her gay friends must endure.
The Bubble will be coming to theaters this fall, so keep an eye out.
Screened at the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.