Written and directed by Arik Kaplun, a Russian émigré to Israel, this overly contrived and broadly comic 1999 feature focuses on a group of immigrants in a Tel Aviv neighborhood during the gulf war. Kaplun's wife, Evlyn, plays the title character, left pregnant and in debt when her husband absconds to Russia with their immigration grant money; a melancholy blond with a heart-melting smile, she arouses the protective (and other) instincts of Eli, a womanizing neighbor. Her story is intercut and gradually connected with that of another newly arrived couple, vulgar strivers who exploit their wheelchair-bound war-hero grandfather by parking him, hat in hand, next to a street musician. Yana and Eli's response to gas masks and sealed rooms may inspire a few laughs, but this sex-and-death territory has been covered better in other films. In Hebrew and Russian with subtitles. 90 min.
By Alissa Simon