Release Date: November 18th, 2005 (NYC-Angelika Film Center) by Typecast Releasing.
The Cast: Hend Ayoub, Mohammed Bakri, Lior Miller, Arin Omary, Tomer Russo. Directed by Saverio Costanzo.
In English, Arabic, and Hebrew with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: Israeli soldiers occupy a Palestinian family’s home.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Before we even get to know the Palestinian family, Israeli soldiers already storm into their house. From very the start, a soldier lays out the precise rules that the father (Bakri), his wife and children must obey or else they will risk their own lives. They only have permission to stay in the living room while they must share the other areas with the soldiers as the “common area”. By no means are they allowed to enter the second floor. Why the soldiers want to live upstairs is a mystery that could only be explained if their mission were clearer. Their aggressive approach to the Palestinians, regardless of how innocent they look, is frustratingly shocking. The family isn’t exactly trapped in their house because they can go outside. Moreover, they’re given the option to leave numerous times. The older Palestinian daughter wants to rebel against the soldiers, but her father doesn’t let it happen—they simply can’t get rid of these new inhabitants. This scenario is like a horror story where characters simply can’t get rid of an entity. In this case, this entity is more tangible, but its motive is unclear. In a chilling scene, the young son places a grenade inside a greenhouse in his backyard, hoping that the soldiers will detonate it. Also, the family must watch while the soldiers threaten the father’s life with a gun. Unfortunately, when the family is alone in their living room, there’s not enough interaction that reveals something interesting or surprising about them. The cinematography, which combines the use of digital video and 35mm film, gives the film a raw, edgy look as if it were a real-life documentary. Some scenes look too grainy, which is distracting and even nauseating. Even though none of the Palestinian family members are particularly memorable, you still care enough about them to want them to survive and to take control of their private property once and for all.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Essentially, this film raises the issue of private property and how the Israeli occupation, in particular, corrupts its value. The fact that the father refuses to leave while not fighting back shows his strength and, above all, his courage. His family’s struggle for survival is very heartbreaking.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Minimal character development.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
THE BOTTOM LINE: Raw, intense, and heartbreaking.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
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