We see the film through the lenses of Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn). She’s a pensive young lady who, following a bereavement, is yoinked on holiday by her vivacious friend Rachel. Rachel (Yael Groblas) is a pot smoking, squeeing, feet on the chairs and dancing on the ceiling kinda chick, so it is entirely natural that they amend their destination to Jerusalem on picking up a fellow traveller in the shape of a gawky young adventurer nicknamed Indy (but actually called Kevin). Yet this is actually filmed in Jerusalem; a city holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. It’s built on layers and layers of civilisations where the bones of all its dead clatter beneath and between the dusty streets.
What fascinates is the contrast between Jeruzalem’s characters and their settings. Groblas imbues Rachel with care despite her seriously dizzy nature while Kevin (Yon Tumarkin) has a puppydogishness that explains the character excesses that might otherwise seem too excitable. Sarah takes a backseat, making us feel all the more vulnerable as she reacts rather than controls her situations. This allows the real stars to come forward – characters so eccentric as to make the history of the city come alive. We have David the raving wanderer (the superbly convincing Itsko Yampulski), the hotel good-time boys and security services who (also in reality) must serve as they try to trust their governments and wrestle the possibility that their faiths may not offer salvation. The direction, particularly towards the latter half of the film, gets this dynamism across beautifully and the imagery is striking: we veer from actual churches to Gothic caverns and from festival robes through to niqabs scuttling through the backstreets. They are all variations of the same thing. All of this is lit superbly, giving the piece a documentary style. This echoes one of the pivotal points of the narrative - the interpretation of morality, as the script states “If you are talking to God, is good, but if God is talking to you, is problem”.
There are shooting sequences featuring monsters that are utterly terrifying while at the same time everything is undercut with dry humour that hisses from this place and its battle of wills. Most cleverly, all of the narratives intertwine to provide a superb visual payoff – the film feels real because it’s based on folk traditions.
The Paz Brothers mix worlds, with Yoav focusing on attention to detail and Doron taking the world view. With their tale of petrified friends, governmental gods and roaming murder, Jeruzalem is a terrific and terrible vision of what, for all we know, may well be.
JERUZALEM / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DORON PAZ, YOAV PAZ / STARRING: YAEL GROBGLAS, YON TUMARKIN, DANIELLE JADELYN / RELEASE DATE: TBC