A BOTTLE IN THE GAZA SEA (Thierry Binisti). 99 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (May 11). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
Fresh from opening the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, Thierry Binisti's A Bottle In The Gaza Sea is a well-meaning but rather insistently earnest plea for mutual understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, based on a young-adult novel by French author Valérie Zenatti.
After a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, Israeli teenager Tal (Agathe Bonitzer) wonders what would drive anyone to strap on an explosives belt. She writes this question as a message in a bottle that her soldier brother throws into the sea.
Young Palestinian Naim (Mahmud Shalaby) finds the bottle and replies to the email address on the letter, starting a conversation that moves beyond initial hostility toward something like empathy - though their respective elders remain rooted in old hatreds.
It's well acted and pleasant enough, and Binisti offers the intriguing possibility that the common ground of the internet will do more to bridge cultural gaps between strangers than anything in the real world. But one gets the sense there should be more to the drama beyond just getting along.