Elie Wajeman’s Alyah (aka Aliyah) is a slow burning tale about a young man, estranged from his Jewish heritage, who is presented an opportunity to help open a restaurant with a cousin in Israel. Having difficulty getting by in Paris, Alex (Pio Marmaï) attempts to collect the necessary funds by dealing drugs and to fake his way into being accepted into the Jewish community. Aliyah is the process of legal immigration into Israel.
Alex is hindered in his quest by his troubled brother (Cédric Kahn) who often begs Alex for help and/or money. Tension develops from his desire to keep his plans secret from his brother. A romance between Alex and a gentile friend (Adèle Haenel) of his cousin’s also adds some emotional weight to his planned departure from France in an otherwise fairly restrained and emotionally distant film. Nonetheless, well-wrought characters and superb acting create sympathy for these characters and helped make it a compelling and interesting viewing experience.
Using the festival’s scoring system, I rank Aliyah as Very Good or 4 out of a possible 5.
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