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Toronto Jewish Film Festival Review: “Princess” (2014) ★★★★


Sometimes in the too-unnecessarily-moral Hollywood, films like PRINCESS would never get the green light. Not to mention an actor who would think a million times before signing up for a film that could have ruined a career. Remember Jonathan Glazer’s “Birth” where Nicole Kidman kisses a little boy assuming that he was her reincarnated husband? Despite Kidman delivering the year’s best performance, the film itself, as well as her performance was not recognized at all. Luckily for PRINCESS, it was not made in Hollywood, and that means it should not fear being visible in the cinematic world.

PRINCESS follows a twelve-year-old Adar, whose relationship with her mother’s boyfriend crosses a thin line when their innocent play games turns into a mature relationship. Her mother is a workaholic and knows nothing about what happens at home when she is away. One day Adar brings a young boy to her house who looks like her. As the relationship of the entire family is being tested, it’s Adar who soon starts dictating her tone. But how far the family will go to keep the idyllic calamity being created is the question not every one will be able to answer.

Once the film begins, you already notice that it’s not an easy nut to crack. Right from the beginning it offers a delicate approach with intelligence, where you know the scene you watch is heading to. However, you still await for the culmination of the story, as you will know by then, will be shocking. Alan is a homeless boy whose definition of freedom and freedom of speech is not the same way Adar’s family sees. Adar, in the meantime, is an intelligent girl who chooses to spend productive time with Michael rather than going to school.

As the story unfolds, it’s Michael who starts looking at Alma’s daughter with a different eye that threatens the family. We also know that Alma works as a nurse in a local hospital, but the turning point is when Michael takes Adar to show the “job” her mother does at evening time… which shocks the girl’s still young and immature mind. It is also interesting to see how the relationship between Alan and Adar progresses, who at some point have to change their mindset. But again, once it happens, no one is really safe in that house.

PRINCESS, directed by Tali Shalom-Ezer is a bold, charismatic, and touches a dangerous subject that many would dislike. But her vision and ability to play with the plot allows the film to flow with no problem, while the actors do what is written for their characters… And that, I must say, is the most difficult part of the film, when you know, every step you make forward may turn the entire world against you. But when it comes to artistic nature of one actor and the willingness of the other one to accept the line, nothing really stops them to deliver a scene that would have easily been banned in the United States.

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