Turn Left at the End of the World
Avi Nesher’s 2004 movie about Indian and Moroccan immigrants abandoned together in an Israeli desert “development town” is a charming but conventional fish-out-of-water story cloaked in the exotic veneer of the early years of the Jewish state. There is no milk and honey in the harsh Negev frontier. Ethnic mistrust between the Indians and Moroccans gives way to mutual resentment of the Zionist program that has seduced them here with Tel Aviv dreams but relegated them to exploitative work at the local bottling factory. So they strike, quarrel in at least four languages, and discover a common love of cricket, of all things. The central plot involves two adolescent girls, one Indian and one Moroccan, whose journey of sexual awakening and moral development is symbolic of the flowering of the Israeli sabra identity. Like the prickly pear desert fruit, the girls develop tough exteriors to match their harsh environs, but are revealed to be sticky sweet where it counts. Despite some graphic sexuality and trenchant social commentary, Turn Left at the End of the World is ultimately too sentimental and predictable, a competent Israeli version of a movie you’ve already seen many times in English. Still, it’s fun to see Jews in saris. Who knew?