November 26, 2004

Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi – A Movie Review

Say 'Bonjour' To Israel's Cinderfella
By Fred H. Arm
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It might be a faux pas to get too excited about the unpretentious and winning Israeli film "Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi" beyond reporting that it is humble and truly endearing. Yet, for 94 minutes it does quite a nice job transferring that fabulous old favorite recently defiled by the Hilary Duff vehicle in "A Cinderella Story" into a middle-class Tel Aviv fairytale.

It includes an ever-classic cliché as Shlomi played by the Israeli actor Oshri Cohen, who falls for the girl next door, Aya Koren. In this variation, the heroine is a he, a seemingly retarded boy flunking everything in school, whose sincere labors hold together a totally dysfunctional household. He has an indifferent and nagging mother along with a dim-witted brother who represent the evil stepmother and her wicked stepdaughters. They busily live their pathetic little lives, quite often taking poor Shlomi for granted; as he cooks, cleans, and becomes the brunt of all jokes. Only his slightly senile and goofy grandfather, who addresses him as “Monsieur Schlomi”, supports this really loveable kid. Shlomi’s fantasy princess is not held back for a future magical appearance—she is already there in the form of the girl next door.

In the interim, the wimpy Shlomi has settled for the withheld affections of his arrogant girlfriend who dangles promises of “upgrading” their relationship to a sexual one, as he grows hornier by the day. Of course, it turns out that Shlomi, played with a mixture of wide-eyed innocence and apparently slow on the uptake, is actually hiding quite a genius until his principal begins to appreciate his extraordinary abilities. The thrill provided in this film is in the witnessing as this revelation unfolds. The real-life Cinderella counterpart as the Fairy Godmother is his high school principal. The culmination of cinematic fulfillment matures as it slowly dawns on all those who have taken Shlomi for granted just how special he really is.
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The movie's primary gratification is the semblance of the classic fairy tale while restoring moral order and the rightful placement of the characters in their appropriate social order. Everybody becomes what he or she is worthy of. Don't you just love it when that happens? In reality, such clichés never seem to occur, however in "Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi" that is what it is all about.

Posted by fredarm at November 26, 2004 06:36 PM