New York reviewer for the end-of-magazine Agenda section, for instance) who judges this film "somewhat dramatically inert" must have slept through the movie. The very situation in which these two families find themselves is so fraught with drama -- each character's handling of the situation becomes a mini-drama unto itself -- that there is more dramatic tension here than in any ten movies you can name. That Levy and her estimable cast almost never allow things to go overboard is a mark of just how exceptional the movie is.
Emmanuelle Devos plays mom (above, right); Pascal Elbé is dad (above, left) and Jules Sitruk (remember the French exchange student in Son of Rambow?), below, is one of the titular sons. Each is terrific, but the movie truly belongs to its moms -- as motherhood is examined in a way that few films have managed previously.
Areen Omari (mom, below, center, right), Khalifa Natour (dad, below at right), a simply gorgeous young man named Mehdi Dehbi (below, left) as the son, and in a pivotal role of his brother is another notable actor, Mahmud Shalaby, who was so striking earlier this year as the sexy singer in Free Men. (Shalaby is shown in the photo at bottom of this post.)
Cohen Media Group and running 105 minutes -- opens this Friday, October 26, in New York City at Landmarks' Sunshine and Clearview's 1st and 62nd; in Queens at the Kew Gardens Cinema, in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema, and in Westchester at the Jacob Burns Film Center and Clearview's Cinema 100. Look for it in CT, NJ and Long Island, as well. In the Los Angeles area, it will open this Friday at various Laemmle Theaters, and will then appear in the weeks to come across country at other Landmark Theaters.
TrustMovies has not much time to spare these days, but when he sees a movie this good and this important, the chance to speak briefly with the filmmaker is too appealing to miss. So he spoke with Lorraine Levy via phone and translator a couple of weeks back, and here's the transcript of the highlights from our conversation. Below, TM appears in boldface and Ms Levy, shown below with some of her cast members, in standard type. (There may be some spoilers below, so why not see the movie first and read afterward?)
TrustMovies: First of all, let me say how impressed I was with your film. This idea of the film is one of the best I’ve ever seen in terms of coming at the Israel/Palestine dilemma. I thought when I first saw your movie that it must have been based on a real-life situation, but evidently it was not. It was simply thought up by you, the filmmaker…?
After I saw your film, what I wanted most, and still want, is to have your movie seen all over the world, starting with the two places in which the film is located and where it means the most. Now, I am not stupid enough to imagine that it will change tons of minds, but it is bound to change some and will make some people stop and think, feel more deeply, and imagine what this might be like if the situation happened to them.
The casting here was particularly good. Emmanuelle Devos (above) is always wonderful, but it was Pascal Elbé (below) who did surprise me. I have seen him in action movies and comedies, but this is maybe the best role I’ve seen him tackle. I am less familiar with the actors who play the Palestinian family, but they were also fine. Did you rely on your casting director, or were these actors your idea? How did that work?
As far as the Palestinian actors, I did not know them, but through the casting director, I was able to discover some wonderful people. The actors who play the mother and father are very well-know stage actors, and it was a great thing for me to be able to work with them.
I am very touched by what you say, because, when you are a filmmaker, you tend to be rather fragile because you have so many choices to make during the film-making process. I have learned that this film really does touch the heart of people all over the world, in Asia, South America, Scandinavia, Europe -- everywhere, so far. I think this is illustrative of the fact the film addresses questions we all share -- and must deal with.
Has the movie opened in Israel yet?