Bar 51 – The Old Central Bus Station

Amos Guttman
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Tel Aviv is always portrayed in Guttman’s films as a stylised, outlandish, dreamy, expressionistic, and out-of-touch city. At the same time, it is also often depicted as a nocturnal, decayed, and decrepit place. At times, one is left feeling a fairytale-like sense of detachment – as if they might as well be anywhere – but also a loss of innocence. The scene that is most evocative of Tel Aviv life a-la Guttman is undoubtedly Bat 51’s Old Central Bus Station scene, immaculately shot by Yossi Wein. At the heart of the film are orphaned siblings, Thomas (the late Juliano Mer-Khamis) and Marianna (Smadar Kilchinsky), who leave their small town and head to the big city. The two find shelter in the Old Central Bus Station area and Thomas goes out to explore their new surroundings. Whilst out and about, he is exposed to a dark, violent, hostile, exploitative and sexualised world with criminals and prostitutes galore. Through the smokey emissions of the last buses pulling into their depot for the night, she emerges – Apolonia Goldstein (Ada Valerie-Tal); the sequin-clad queen of the night, with her plunging neckline and fake jewellery. She asks Thomas to join her for coffee and some sandwiches and later, to set up shop at her place and in her bed. Their fateful encounter will end up upending the lives of all those involved.