A Jewish student is unable to control his thoughts as they wander into strange areas. He lives in the middle of a battle between his mind's rational, Jewish upbringing and the sexual urges of his body. Soon he doesn't know which one is in control anymore, and it goes down hill when he starts questioning whether the people he meets are even real.
How often do you hear me say something reminds me of David Lynch? Not too often, right? "Motion Sickness" certainly has some Lynch in it, and is very obviously one of the bigger inspirations behind the making of this movie. Lynch is just one of a few people/films that shine through (and that S.M. Kerstein has mentioned as well) in here. I'd probably say that this lands closest to "Jacob's Ladder" for me, except for what it all means in the end, and if you add a touch of Lynch and Cronenberg to it. I might not be a huge fan of that Lynch guy, but I am a big fan of most other inspirations here. I need to say that I feel this is more than a tribute piece, though.
I can't give you a full synopsis here, but I will tell you what the first thread to follow is, and some important parts that aren't spoiling it. This is a very rocky road, you'll be confused on more than one occasion and maybe a bit more than needed at times too. It sets off with a young Jewish man, Shem Mochin. Shem used to be a rabbinical student. He now lives a rather miserable life in loneliness, mostly spending his time reading in Hebrew. When he goes to a doctor for what he believes in a leg injury, they tell him that the pain most likely is caused from depression. Which makes sense, right? He's a lonely little Jew man, after all! This is just the early stages of a psychological hell that he will soon swallow his body and soul. He is carrying sexual urges that are becoming stronger and stronger, to where he starts obsessing over the female body almost. His mind and body are essentially in a battle - who should he listen to? This duality is scratching the surface of something that will soon crack.
There is a lot that isn't what it seems in "Motion Sickness", and quite literally it's a mystery in most ways imaginable. People are not who they seem to be, and the same couple of people appear everywhere he turns. His identity is being replaced by a more alpha male persona - Aver Noga enters the movie. The same good vs. bad battle shows itself in his love life as he's torn between the lust for a sexy, willing neighbour and a love for another sweeter, nicer neighbour. His body and mind are both failing him, putting him in a complete indentity chaos and a sort of body mutations (Cronenberg Light, as it's never quite a body horror situation). Did I forget to mention that the movie is also focusing on a murder, and how Shem/Aver is involved goes through loops before we can solve yet another puzzle?
The confusion and dualities of a person are the main threads here. In extremely simple terms, I see a movie about a man who is finally setting himself free. Letting his depression destroy itself by letting both body and mind control him. But without restraints, the two can't live together. You need to balance your lust with logic, your desires with respect, and your good with the bad. I'm surely finding the wrong things, but I'm finding something at least, right? There's more, obviously, as this is just what's in the center. I won't try to figure out what everything means. There is a lot going on besides this and I can't even tell if everything DOES make sense. Since one of the few problems I have with this movie is that it shoves a bit too much in there, it's easy for me to feel like maybe not everything is planned out. Which doesn't have to be a bad thing, depending on who you are. I mean, we're all fans of Buñuel here!
Yes, it gets confusing. It's impossible to keep track on everything at all times, especially when you consider that I didn't mention everything in my synopsis. The end result is not a complete mess, which is great, but I think at times it might've thrown too many pieces in there for the puzzle to ever be completed entirely. "Motion Sickness" manages through that, though, as we're fascinated by the journey that this sexually charged, psychological, surrealistic, noir-ish, drama crossbreed forces us through. I'll admit that I felt dumbfounded going into this review, not being sure where to start, what to say/what to leave out, what I thought, what it reminded me of, and so on. It's a movie that will remind you of many other movies, yet at the same time there's a new flavour in the bunch that shows great potential in Kerstein's future projects. If you want to go numb for a while, check it out! You shouldn't try to overthink it all - let the things that make sense set in, and the rest may just float away. Give it a second, third or fourth watch if you want to continue the puzzle, but I can't guarantee that it can be solved.