Ariana – Plot first

George Obadiah
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One of melodrama’s many staples is the binary oppositions between [social] classes and worldviews – a particularly noticeable trope in a scene where penniless Cochava confronts Gabriel Shamir Esq., revealing that he had got her pregnant. The opening sequence that preceded this acrimonious encounter paints a near nonverbal picture of the hierarchy between the two: Gabriel Shamir Esq., in his open-top convertible advances at Cochava. As is evident and contrary to her – single, solitary, and with only a first name – his is known to all. Cochava is standing on the pavement, asking for a lift to Jerusalem. After giving her  a quick once over, the solicitor tells her to hop in. Of course the pipe he is puffing away at is more than just a pipe but rather, a hint of what is to come at the end of the sequence where the two share a kiss in a hotel room. Two months later, a distraught Cochava is demanding that Shamir step up to the plate, whereas he could not get her out of there fast enough, with a wad of cash and a word of advice – get an abortion. In that climatic moment in which their polar differences are as clear as day, Cochava proves that she is indeed pure of heart when she hurls all those pound notes [pre-shekel Israeli currency] at the corrupt solicitor and predicts that he will live to regret this.

A couple of scene footnotes: After Cochava has stormed out of the office, the camera goes back to Shamir and shows him collecting all the scattered banknotes, as if to dial up the contempt that viewers are meant to feel for him. The second note refers to another element caught in Obadiah’s frame: an unidentified production crew member seen sat on the floor. Thus, the fictional world finds itself in a head-on collision with the outside world in a rare oversight that may have sloppiness written all over it but also, however inadvertently, captures Obadiah’s clear priorities in his storytelling: plot first, then art.

Courtesy of Shoval Films.

Ariana is available for online streaming on the Israel Film Archive website. Click to watch.

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