I imagine a movie that is even-handed about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will enrage people at the extremes. If so, the French produced film “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea,” screening January 22 and 23 at the New York Jewish Film Festival, could create a battle royale among American Jews, even though its provocations are measured.
With its tight structure and frequent use of voiceover, it’s not surprising that the film is adapted from a literary source. But I would not have guessed that author Valerie Zanetti — who also co-wrote the film script with director Thierry Binisti — intended her original novel as a work of young adult fiction. While its main characters — an Israeli teenager of French origin named Tal and a young Gazan named Naim — come perilously close to stock figures, they gain in complexity as their predicaments with family, friends and social environments gather texture and nuance. Yet the story never descends into a predictable tale of love across boundaries of ethnicity, religion and class. Rather, it builds as an epistolary friendship set within a political context.