The title of Elie Wajeman’s striking first film refers to the immigration of Jews to Israel; it is there that hashish dealer Alex Raphaelson, currently living in a gritty section of Paris, hopes to start over by helping a cousin open up a restaurant in Tel Aviv. But many obstacles face Alex as he prepares for this voyage—primarily his burdensome older brother, Isaac (Cédric Kahn, a talented writer-director making a rare appearance in front of the camera), who constantly leans on his sibling for money. In between Hebrew lessons, Alex, drained of his funds by his needy, manipulative brother, begins selling harder drugs—which places him at the mercy of extremely dangerous men— to pay for his trip to Israel. Complicating his departure further, Alex falls in love with Jeanne, a fiercely intelligent, independent graduate student. Wajeman’s debut powerfully lays bare the onerous pull of family ties and intelligently questions whether, in relocating thousands of miles away and starting anew, we can ever really escape ourselves.

“Aliyah quickly turns away from American mythology in order to build an uneasy and sensitive portrait of a young man whose departure to Israel (“a lame country like me” he says) seems less of a solution to his problems and more like stepping out of the fire into the frying-pan, which is politically quite incorrect.”
Romain Blondeau, Les Inrockuptibles

Elie Wajeman

Gaëlle Macé, Elie Wajeman

Alex Raphaelson: Pio Marmaï
Isaac Raphaelson: Cédric Kahn
Jeanne: Adèle Haenel
Mathias: Guillaume Gouix

PRODUCTION France, 2012
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35, Blu-ray, DCP, DVD

Film Movement