Aviad, a San Francisco State University alumnus, bases her film on a real-life crime spree. While covering a clash between Palestinian olive farmers and an IDF detachment, TV documentarian Nira (Dodina) recognizes leftist activist Lily (Elkabetz). Back in the 1970s, both women were among the victims identifying The Polite Rapist from a police lineup. The present day encounter leads Nira and Lily to confront the long term legacy of the serial rapist’s traumatic crimes.
The title “Invisible” principally refers to the signs of rape on a woman. Despite the façades of fulfilling lives as filmmaker and leftist activist, both of the lead characters bear unacknowledged sorrows from the crime. Nira unconsciously feels guilty for sparking her father’s fatal heart attack. Lily and her writer husband Annon remain emotionally distant from each other. Neither woman has been able to bear a man’s intimate touch.
Yet the titular adjective also references attitudes towards rape encouraged by Jewish society’s sexism. From police attitudes which regarded a woman walking alone as a nymphomaniac seeking rape to newspaper articles focusing on the rape victims’ attractiveness, Lily’s silence about her rape becomes both understandable and tragic. Yet that silence undermines her relationship with daughter Dana.
“Invisible” builds to a quietly angry yet powerful conclusion that rebukes those people journalist Laurie Penny describes as believing women who suffer rape are personally enriched.
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