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The House on Chelouche Street
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10 from PG votes
Release: 01 Oct 1973 /

The House on Chelouche Street

Genre: Drama
Director: Moshé Mizrahi,
Synopsis: A fatherless family immigrates to Israel from Egypt during the British Mandate period. The film traces the hardships the family suffers in the politically unstable country.

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Critic Reviews

The above headline could be a reference to a great deal of movies: The Godfather, Grease and pulp fiction (that all signs indicate it occurs in the late 70's). This movie is not by any means the indulgent romanticist movie (movies that deal with gory wars rarely are) but to some more than others, this movie is a reminder to an era that is forgotten in the abyss of history books.

Before I go into detail about the film, I'd like to elaborate on the period of time that directly inspires and evolves the story. The year is 1947, The U.N decides to establish one Jewish state and an Arab one in the British ruled territory named "Palestine" that is roughly the size of New-Jersey (the state, of course).

At that time, there are approximately 500,000 Jews in Palestine, large part of whom, reside in Tel Aviv. Among the endless ethnic communities populating the young metropolis, there are Jews from Egypt. I myself am a descendant of an Egyptian family and I'm noting that because I am aware of the fact that what seemed familiar and authentic to me, might seem enigmatic to others.

The plot of the film centers around a 15 year old kid named Sammy, the eldest of a four children family, ran by the stern yet sensitive widowed mother (Gila Almagor in a very credible and moving performance. Sammy is well read but his academic aspirations have to be set on hold as he shares the burden of co-provider of his family.

The puberty of Sammy occurs in the time of turmoil for the Jewish inhabitants of soon-to-be-Israel. The time where Mutiny movements such as Etzel and Hagganah are at their peak of activity against the British rule and Sammy is torn between his obligation to support his family and his need to fight the war against the Arab neighboring countries which launched an attack a day after the U.N. resolution.

To make matters worse, Sammy gets involved romantically with a 25 year old librarian of russian descent (Michal Bat Adam), an affair that for all sorts of reasons, Is frowned upon by his family and companions.

The movie is low on plot development or pacing but it's compensated by a wonderful cast (strangely enough, the leading role is one of the least impressive performances of the film) that encapsulate the Jewish-Egyptian state of mind.

By "state of mind", I refer to the community with the openness of the Arab culture combined with the civil ways of Alexandria (which inhabited most, if not all of the Jewish people in Egypt). Alexandria is a European city that happens to be located in Egypt a great deal of this community's grace is attributed to that fact. As you can tell, the movie touched me in a way that disables me from being completely objective about it. However, the fact that the movie received an Oscar nomination for best foreign film and the fact that this movie is considered to be one of the best 10 Israeli films ever made (A statement to which I disagree) may indicate that the movie speaks to people of different ethic backgrounds and eras.

7.5 out of 10 in my FilmOmeter.

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