Saturday, June 16, 2018

DVD/digital debut for Philippe Van Leeuw's family-under-siege drama, IN SYRIA

We hear about Syria almost daily: the bombings, the gassings, the snipers, the deaths, the destruction, the emigration (not to mention the problems Syrians have as immigrants to new countries). So the arrival of a narrative film about a Syrian family and their neighbors in crisis mode as they endure bombings that grow ever closer, sniper fire, lack of water and much else is... well, "welcome" may not be quite the right word, but IN SYRIA, written and directed by Phillipe Van Leeuw, is certainly a worthwhile addition to cinema about the middle east today.

Whoops.... TrustMovies has just managed to somehow delete his entire post, other than the initial paragraph above, just as he was about to publish it. Technology. Fuck! And he simply does not have the time or energy to reconstruct it all over again, with the photos and editorial content. So he will simply say that this very well-written, -directed and -acted movie will give you a believable and gripping account of a family and their friends and neighbors under siege and trying to survive.

Considering the subject matter, the film is relatively low on heavy-duty violence -- a sniper incident early on and then later a nasty, graphic rape --  but the threat of violence is ever-present, and the cast members, led by Israeli actress Hiam Abbass (above and below) as the mother-in-charge, deliver first-rate performances throughout. If you want to experience Syria, second-hand at least, the movie is definitely worth seeing.

From Film Movement, in Arabic with English subtitles and running a relatively swift 87 minutes, In Syria arrives on DVD and digital this coming Tuesday, June 19 -- for purchase and/or rental. As usual with Film Movement titles, the disc includes a short film, as well: this one written and directed by In Syria star Ms Abbass back in 2000. Titled Le Pain (The Bread), it takes place in a French provincial town and involves a family of newcomers, lunch, and the need to go out to buy some bread. It's nicely done and worth seeing, too. Though the combination of the short and the film itself adds up to an awfully bleak watch. Gird up your loins.

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