If there is one subject which filmmakers of any nation almost never get right, it’s the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Most of their films end up invariably being wholly one-sided and myopic to the point of irrelevance. These are not films interested in resolving conflicts, presenting solutions, or even simply telling stories. They just want to advance one side of the discourse.
The few stray movies that do elucidate something worthwhile about Israel or Palestine – movies like Paradise Now, Miral, or Yossi & Jagger – succeed because they show the characters and conflicts in the glorious and messy complexities that are almost too difficult to bear. Thankfully, A Bottle In the Gaza Sea falls into this latter category.
The set-up is a bit too idyllic and precious to be taken seriously – a French Jewish girl writes a letter expressing her frustration with the endless fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, her brother launches it into the sea where it is discovered by a Palestinian boy named Nam who writes her an email and hatches a bond that expresses the humanistic yearning of young but wiser souls.
But the movie knows this and it takes the focus off of the plea for peace and shows that it is possible simply by understanding the other side . . . in the fullness of its humanity. This is admittedly a tall order, but somehow it seems that the idealism of youth falls to the wayside as the aged bitterness of the centuries creeps into the minds and hearts of those in charge. With the dawn of a new age upon the world, it just might be that this young idealism will be reigning over the perpetual war torn region that is the Gaza strip. May it be so.