I saw this fine Israeli 2008 film last week. So far as I am aware, it is the first film by writer-director Omri Givon. At first the main theme seems to be terrorism. Galia was on a bus that was blown up. She was terribly burned and her lover, Oren, killed. Galia was actually clinically dead for seven minutes but a paramedic did not give up on her and saved her life. Galia’s memory is spotty at best and she tries to fill in the gaps. At one point, a man involved with Zaka, a (real life) voluntary religious rescue organization, who assisted in Galia’s rescue, relates to her a mystical notion that if a soul ascends to heaven before its proper time, it is sent back to be reunited with the body, but, before, that, is told what its earthly life will be.

The film uses this notion to create an effective and unusual drama. It avoids didacticism and indeed seems to me to really have no thesis of the afterlife to propound nor even a general idea of the course of true love. If this means the film is not obviously deep, it also helps it to avoid the absurdity and sentimentality of many films with mystical aspects (e.g. the ludicrous Sam Mendes flick American Beauty ).

Seven Minutes to Heaven turns out to be about love and destiny with the terrorism element in service to these themes. This is a stylistically mature and well-constructed film. It is one of the more intriguing love stories I know of and has a thought-provoking ending that is about as far from mawkishness as it is possible to be.

Articles by Shmuel Ben-Gad

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