"Poetic" is both literal and in the cinematic context. The film, part of it at least, takes such an airy, insubstantial, poetic flow. Towards the end, there is really a poem, echoing circumstances of unexpected pathos.
This Israeli cinematic gem, because of its structure, is often compared to "Crash". Less known "Coeure" (2006) would have been an equally good comparison, as well as a few others. What makes Jellyfish unique however is that it does not go to the length of these other films in weaving a complex tapestry of the component stories. The three stories in Jellyfish are so casually linked that there may very well be no links. This is good. Over-complicated plots often distract from the essence of the stories, obscuring some of their beauty.
Nor does Jellyfish pound the emotions of the audience the way many of these other films did. When the people in this film exhibit their emotions, they are nonchalantly low-key. Again, this is good. This leaves the audience more room to ponder and reflect, both during the film and afterwards.
The "main" story, if there is one, evolves around a gentle, unassuming young women - vicissitudes and flawed relationships in that part of her life to which we are allowed a brief glimpse. This is also the most surreal of the three stories, because the interaction with a mysterious little girl who materializes out of the waves at the beach. This triggers shreds and patches that are open to interpretation, such as the young woman's reflection of her own childhood. A secondary character in this segment is another young woman, a photographer who befriends the protagonist and helps when the mysterious little girl goes missing.
The second story, on the contrary, is solidly real. It evolves around a young Pilipino domestic helper in Tel Aviv, with as the key motif her telephone calls, usually in a street corner booth, to her 5-year-old child back home. The other two key characters in this segment are her employers, mother and daughter: an invalid and strong-headed old women and an actress who is so wrapped up with her theatre career to spend time caring for her mother.
The final story starts with an accident during a wedding, when the bride's broken ankle wrecks the planned honeymoon cruise. In a crummy local hotel (albeit still at a beach) that is a most unsatisfactory substitute, a mysterious woman enters that part of the young couple's life, stirring disturbing undercurrents of emotion. It is from this mysterious woman, purportedly a writer, that the poetry comes.
While I have left out a lot of details and other characters, it can be seen just from the much simplified synopsis what a great variety of emotional avenues the directors can tread down. It is to the credit of Shira Geffen and Etgar Keret that they resisted the temptation of going overboard with the material and wisely kept the film to 87 minutes. Going top-heavy into any of these emotional avenues would have ruined this film. They have wisely pass up a stormy symphony for a nonchalant tone poem. For that, they have been rewarded last year with the Cannes Camera d'Or for best first film.