Or (2004) AKA My Treasure, AKA Mon trésor, is an
Israeli/French "coming of age" story shot on location in Tel Aviv,.
The central character, named Or, is a likeable and attractive 18 year
old high school girl who works part time at night as a dishwasher. The
real challenge in her life is her mother, who is a street hooker and
every bit the run-down whore. Mom is not making good decisions, so Or
is trying desperately to take care of her and get her off of the
streets. The girl finds her mother a housecleaning job, and even tries
locking her inside their apartment, but mom just keeps going back to
hooking. Or finally makes a tragic decision when mom comes home
hemorrhaging after a night on the streets, and the mother of Or's
boyfriend suggests that Or is not worthy of dating her son.
While the storyline is certainly sensational, the film is in no way to
be considered exploitation. Mother and daughter share some nice
moments, and the story is told rather calmly, letting the plot speak
It is directed perfectly, getting the best out of the cast, and not
getting in the way of the wonderful writing. Both Ronit Elkabetz (mom)
and Dana Ivgy (Or) gave brilliant performances. These days, I have a
low tolerance for tragedy. I have seen enough of that in real life,
and generally go for films with happy endings. This was a big
exception. I felt like I knew these women, and really cared what
happened to them. Yes, it requires reading subtitles, and is totally
character-driven, but it is acted and directed so expertly that none
of that matters.