So, I finally saw it last weekend.
For some reason, when I had the chance to attend the avant-première in early October, I didn’t. The real reasons had nothing to do with what I told myself: that I was getting tired of romance plots situated in conflict zones, that there was so much of it out there now, that, in the absence of any real progress on the Palestinian issue, they practically amounted to a sub-genre of exploitation films. If you haven’t figured this out already, I can be really dumb sometimes. In any case, it was just a particularly cynical, skewed, anti-pathetic bit of BS that I used to prop up my staying away from the avant-première.
Now that I’ve seen the film, I’m kicking myself. Not that I would have had anything interesting to ask the director – whose attendance was the special thing about that screening – but I missed whatever interesting thing he or his mates might have said about the film, its making, distribution, Cannes, etc. Dufus is me.
So yes, it really is all that good. Tight directing, I can’t think of even a second that needs to be cut. Very full, fulfilling. There was simply no melodrama at all, despite all the opportunity in the world – I mean this is the Occupied Palestinian Territories, this is the no-nonsense Israeli military machine facing down punks armed with stone, slings and WWII rifles, there’s the Wall and the lives it is unable to divide. It reminded me of the laser-sharp clarity of the Palestinian friends it has been my privilege to know. So, the scene towards the end when the old passer-by matter-of-factly helps Omar get back on his feet and re-attempt scaling the Wall for the third time – well, it’s when you know you’re crying but your tear ducts don’t have time to respond. And then the moment has already passed.
This film is about courage. Not lewd bravado, but a grounded, sure determination, about how it can unravel and how innate grace and love – both romantic as well as fraternal – can help one regain it, re-discover the lost centre of one’s being.
If I were an Israeli state agent or any kind of Zionist ideologue, this film would scare the hell out of me. Their project fails every day that Palestine lives – the culture, the land, the people’s attachment to them. And this film proves that the Palestinians will just not roll over.
The only useful comment in the reviews went something like “un thriller autant nerveux que son héros est gracieux” (Télérama). Don’t read the plot, lest you be sidetracked like me.
It just is so right, this film. Justice – both in form and in substance.
Just watch it!