“Foreign Letters” Review

Posted: March 4, 2013 in Film Review
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One of the latest offerings from Film Movement is “Foreign Letters,” a 2012 release from director Ela Thier. It tells the story of Ellie, a 12-year-old immigrant girl from Israel, coping with homesickness and humiliations in her new school where she can’t manage to fit in. She is so different when she arrives – in her language, in her dress, in her customs – she can be alone in a classroom full of kids. Ellie survives by cleaving to the letters she exchanges with her best friend back home. But life brightens when she meets Thuy, a Vietnamese refugee her age and also an outcast in their classroom. The two girls, having both arrived from war-torn countries, find solace and adventure with each other. A friendship slowly builds as the two teach each other about life, trust, and forgiveness. Based on the filmmaker’s own experiences, “Foreign Letters” features the music of iconic Israeli musician Chava Alberstein, who was the director’s favorite musician when her family immigrated to the US in 1982.

About the film, director Thier says, “I believe that any story that reminds us of who we really are, under that suit of armor, won’t only push the envelop, but eliminate it.”

“Foreign Letters” is great message film that explores dealing with how we are all different, but instead of worrying about how we are unlike from everyone else, we should embrace these differences as our own uniqueness and contribution to the beautiful world surrounding us. And, like Thuy, instead of using our differences to hide behind – to keep us protected (and our secrets hidden) – we can open up and discover so much more the world has to offer. As the two girls begin to get to know each other better, their own differences become a challenge, and they must learn to accept even close friends for who they are, and not try to make them into something else. At all levels we should embrace each other’s differences and uniqueness.

“Foreign Letters” is put together well by director Thier. She pulls some great emotions from her two young actors: Noa Rotstein as Ellie and Dalena Le as Thuy. And the film moves along at a nice pace, never getting sentimental (or boring). This is a wonderful film to watch with your family – it is rated G – for who among us cannot relate to “not fitting in” at some time or another? Embrace your uniqueness. “Foreign Letters” is in English, Hebrew and Vietnamese with subtitles.


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