1 item from 1999
Teenagers will be teenagers, even in a war-torn city, as this debut feature by Ziad Doueiri entertainingly and evocatively demonstrates. A rambling, episodic portrait of three friends spending their adolescence in divided Beirut from 1975-83, the film manages to blend charm and humor into its unlikely setting.
The writer-director, who has worked as a cameraman on many Quentin Tarantino productions, spent his formative years in Lebanon, and his film resonates with insight, authenticity and a surprising degree of humor.
What it doesn't have is much of a plot. The film concerns the adventures and relationships among Tarek (Rami Doueiri, the director's brother), his best friend Omar (Mohamad Chamas) and the girl he idolizes, May Rola Al Amin). Along with the usual travails of teenhood, the three young people must cope with a city divided by a civil war pitting Muslims against Christians. Although Tarek and Omar are Muslim, and May is Christian, their friendship is never called into question.
Dodging bombs and masked militiamen wielding machine guns, they engage in such normal activities as smoking and biking throughout the embattled city and making movies with an 8mm camera. Tarek even manages to stumble upon the local brothel, the neutrality of which is indicated by the women's underwear posted on the balcony. Tarek's parents, meanwhile, struggle with the decision of whether to leave their increasingly dangerous homeland.
Some of "West Beirut" suffers from an aimlessness and preoccupation with minutia, and many scenes -- such as a series of arguments between Tarek's family and the loud, vulgar woman who lives below them -- are allowed to drag on to irritating effect. But the film also provides a textured portrait of complicated characters coping with an increasingly surreal existence, and Doueiri has directed the film with uncommon assurance.
Cowboy Booking International
Producers:Rachid Bouchareb, Jean Brehat
Cinematographer:Ricardo Jacques Gale
Production designer:Hamze Nasrallah
May:Rola Al Amin
Riad:Joseph Bou Nassar
Running time -- 105 minutes
No MPAA rating
1 item from 1999
IMDb.com, Inc. takes no responsibility for the content or accuracy of the above news articles, Tweets, or blog posts. This content is published for the entertainment of our users only. The news articles, Tweets, and blog posts do not represent IMDb's opinions nor can we guarantee that the reporting therein is completely factual. Please visit the source responsible for the item in question to report any concerns you may have regarding content or accuracy.See our NewsDesk partners