Tag Archives: Fragments

Red Cow – Fragments Festival Review

Sexuality and repression go hand in hand. There have been many movies that express how a religious upbringing could impact the mental-health and becoming of an LGBT youth. Even adults in films such as Disobedience struggle with sexual identity following strict religious views. It is perhaps a sad tale as old as time where many are repressed by their families and their puritan views.

This is explored in Red Cow.

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Directed by Tsivia Barkai Yacov, Red Cow is set in East Jerusalem and revolves around young Benny. Guided by her devout Dad who leads a group of Israeli extremists who are raising the sacred titular heifer which’ll bring forth a new age for Jews. Confined to prayer and study, Benny comes across the beautiful and mature Yael. The pair have an instant connection but in a world that sees them as secondary to men and families who are unable to accept love outside a man and woman marriage, there is a dark realisation that their love affair may not survive.

Yacov does wonders at capturing a natural energy of this film. Conveying the conflict within the main three, the director fleshes out the intense struggle of everyone involved whilst framing the film with a dusty yet striking landscape.

What’s more, Yacov tackles with great detail the blossoming sexuality between the young girls. Captured almost effortlessly by Avigayil Koevary (Benny) and Moran Rosenblatt (Yael) – two brilliant and upcoming Israeli actresses – the film is an intimate and satisfying depiction of life and love from repressed youth. That feeling of secrecy and forbidden lust is well-handled and utterly compelling. There is a beauty within this film, even though it is shrouded by the repression and Yacov gloriously encapsulates this with the help of the young leads.

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Gal Toren is equally riveting as Benny’s father Yehoshua. It’s easy to compartmentalise him as this antagonist – an extremist and a devout Jewish man, he falls into religious pitfalls as he struggles to cope with his daughter’s growth. Giving that he could’ve been. But in similar ways to how Alessandro Nivola’s Dovid in Disobedience is painted beyond that of a comic villain, so is Toren’s stunning depiction of Yehoshua. Here is a father who simply doesn’t understand and instead of acceptance – he turns away in conflict. However, Yacov and Toren work together with this story and flesh out the character greatly with his love for his daughter.

Red Cow is a stirring watch. It may tackle a familiar subject but it does so in a timely and satisfying way.


Red Cow is part of Fragments Film Festival
 Buy tickets now!

Alice T – Fragments Festival Review

They say that teenagers scare the living shit out of me…

That’s how the famous song goes – which is more of a rallying cry to adolescents and a mockery of adults who feel the sentiment. But as one gets older, with time frittering away whatever understanding an adult had over that hormonal stage of their lives, it’s easy to be somewhat fearful of the erratic and temperamental teens that populate our lives.

Especially when they are particularly thorny in nature. Yet, still, can we grow to understand them? That’s the aim of Alice T.

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Directed by Radu Muntean, Alice T revolves around the titular teenager who is impertinent at best. Adopted by her mother who seems nothing but disappointed in her, so Alice invents a fictitious life which blurs reality for herself too. When Alice discovers that she is pregnant, the friction between herself, her mothers, and her life at school.

The problem with Alice T is that it only gifts its eponymous character some real emotion towards the end. Any attempts to fall into a connection between mother and daughter skims instead of dives deep. It also makes Alice T more prickly than sympathetic. Maybe I am looking at the film from an adult perspective but it’s hard to find a common ground with someone who starts horrible and doesn’t learn much until the final act.

The film also hits a cardinal sin of mine (or something that I am really fed up with): There have been enough films about tearaway teens. This is the biggest problem. Alice is seemingly fearsome for no apparent reason. There’s the implications of being adoption are there in the air – even though her mother Boganda uses the fact to undermine herself and infer judgement from others – but Alice is never really fleshed out and given a rhyme for her actions more so than being a teen who just is awful. One wishes that there would be a film about a teenager who doesn’t do drugs or alcohol or has sex or kicks off. That would be boring, right?

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Not necessarily – it just seems with Alice T that these reasons aren’t there. The film struggles pairing the issues with the act and when mother and daughter wind up talking to one another, you wish it’d linger just a little longer to hit.

When the finale hits, your thankful that the film finally gives its lead character some depth and it slams into you hard (even if the closing scene does last a little longer than it should.) The film has terrific performances, particularly by Andra Guti, but it is a hard slog despit it’s good moments.

Alice T is a long slog but it has good moments.


Alice T plays as part of Fragments Festival tonight
Buy tickets now.