Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi

on July 02, 2004 by Tim Cogshell
The idea of an Israeli film usually conjures up images of war-torn dramas with suicide bombers or star-crossed lovers on opposite sides of the religious divide. Thus, "Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi" is a welcome surprise. This is the most heartening of family comedies and the sweetest of teen love stories, with just a touch of drama.

Shlomi (Oshri Cohen) is a high-school-age boy who is also the glue that holds his slightly dysfunctional family together. He takes care of his aging and crippled grandfather (Arie Ellias), his overworked mother (Esti Zakhaim) and even his less-than-empathetic older brother (Albert Lluz), whom he always reminds to take his medicine. He's also the confidant of his married older sister and his cheating and expelled hypochondriac father, not to mention a bit of a whipping boy for his utterly self-involved girlfriend. Along with his emotional nurturing, Shlomi cleans and cooks lavish meals, generally neglecting his own interests and even his school work. Though Shlomi is failing most of his courses, a bright teacher and headmaster notices something special in Shlomi. With a few tests it's determined that he's actually a genius, with a particular facility for math. Amidst all of this, the only thing Shlomi really wants is for his new neighbor, a beautiful gardener called Rona (Aya Koren), to notice him.

This is the simplest and sweetest of films, punctuated by several exceptional performances (especially lead actor Oshri Cohen) and just the right mixture of humor and pathos. Starring Oshri Cohen, Arieh Elias, Esti Zakheim, Aya Steinovitz, Yigal Naor and Albert Iluz. Directed and written by Shemi Zarhin. Produced by Eitan Evan. A Strand release. Comedy/Drama. Hebrew-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 94 min

Tags: Israel, foreign, teen, romance, Oshri Cohen, Arieh Elias, Esti Zakheim, Aya Steinovitz, Yigal Naor, Albert Iluz, Shemi Zarhin

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