In the opening moments of “Asia,” a young-looking lady dances and downs photographs in a crowded, neon-lit bar. You may be shocked when, within the subsequent scene, she’s revealed because the maternal half of Ruthy Pribar’s mother-daughter drama. A 35-year-old Russian nurse in Jerusalem, Asia (Alena Yiv) was in her teenagers when she had Vika (Shira Haas). Now that Vika is a young person, and desperate to experiment with boys and medication, Asia struggles to self-discipline her whereas searching for escapes of her personal in hookups and drinks after lengthy work shifts. Adding urgency to Vika’s adolescent revolt is her fast-progressing degenerative illness, which makes her determined to expertise life’s hedonistic pleasures.
“Asia” follows the contortions of Asia and Vika’s relationship because the latter’s well being deteriorates quickly. Pribar directs with a fragile contact, with little music and a lens that’s attentive to faces and gazes. But if the movie avoids the everyday sentimentalism of dramas about terminal sickness, it indulges closely in dourness. Asia and Vika battle to emerge as full-fleshed characters from the film’s uninteresting, blue-grey frames, whereas the script rushes by way of provocative plot turns in its bleak procession towards a wrenching conclusion.
The most troubling of those narrative twists entails Gabi (Tamir Mula), an enthralling Arab nurse-aid whom Asia hires to handle Vika. In a misguided bid to meet her daughter’s wishes, Asia makes Gabi a totally indecent proposal — one which, in a extra daring movie, might need cued an exploration of the moral quandaries that caregiving usually entails. But “Asia” downplays the transgression and its emotional ramifications, in what appears like a disservice to Vika’s assertion that she deserves greater than our pity.
Not rated. In Hebrew and Russian, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes. In theaters.