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**SPOILERS** Controversial political director Cosat-Garvas' attempt to
show the Israeli-Palestine dispute should be commended for his
even-handedness in trying to explain both sides of that Middle-East
conflict. Still the movie's overdone love triangle between Hanna
Kaufman, Jill Claybuarg, and both her estranged husband Frenchman
Victor Bonnet, Jean Yanne, her Israeli prosecutor lover Joshua Herzog,
Gabriel Byrne, the father of her child David as well as the terrorist
suspect Hanna defends Selim Bakri, Mohammed Bakri, made the film a bit
to hard to digest.
Hanna an American émigré to Israel is a court appointed lawyer in the Jerusalem Judaical System. Pregnant with her lovers, Joshua, child Hanna want's an abortion. With abortions illegal in Israel she books a flight to Paris to have the procedure done there and meets her estranged husband Victor at the David Ben-Gurion Airport.
Planning to leave the next day for Paris Hanna is called to the courthouse to defend a suspected terrorist who demands that she represent him and is willing to pay Hanna, $2,000.00, for her services. It turns out that the defendant is Selim Bakri a person who Hanna successfully defended some time ago. Postponing her leaving Israel, to Victor's great displeasure, Hanna opts to defend Bakri and at the same time to go full term with Joshua's child.
As Hanna takes up Selmi's case it causes friction between her and Joshua who feels that Selim is a threat to the state of Israel and should be put away for life. Salmi is anything but a dangerous terrorist but a homeless Palestinian who want's to go back home to his ancestors farm in Israel that's been bulldozed and turned into an Israeli settlement.
The Israeli courts, and government, know that Selim's dispute with them will lead, if Hanna wins his case, to thousands of claims by homeless Palestinians to be repatriated back to their homes in Israel. That in the end would upset and even destroy the Jewish State by making Jews a minority in their own country.
Trying to offer Selim a South African citizenship in order to legally emigrate and live in Israel the Israeli court hopes to defuse this very explosive situation that they find themselves in, Selim has documents that date back to 1876 proving his families ownership of the disputed property. Determined to see his case go to Israeli supreme court Selim wouldn't budge and is sentenced to eight months in prison for entering Israel illegally.
Out of jail, after an almost fatal hunger strike, and put in the custody of Hanna until he's deported back to Jordan Selim despite his sweetness towards Hanna and her son David, whom he calls little Omar, is later suspected of a terrorist bombing of the Israeli village of Kafar Ramin. The Jewish settlement that was built over the ruins his family's farm and where he was seen, by Hanna among others, snooping around the last few days up until about an hour before the village was bombed.
Hanna now not knowing what to say or do is in danger of losing her son David to Joshua, who's determined to have Selim arrested for the terrorist bombing meanwhile Selim seems to have disappeared, or run away. The movie ends with Hanna scared for her life for defending and even falling in love with the non-Jewish, and suspected Arab terrorist, Selim Bakri answering her door bell only to find a company of Israeli soldiers guns cocked and ready to fire looking for the missing Selim. We never know for sure if Selim is responsible for the terrorist attack on Kafar Ramin or if he even tried to check out of the country.
Joshua who was, together with Selim, at Hanna's house when the news about the terrorist attack came on the TV news didn't even bother to arrest Selim who at first looked like he was making a run for it only to go back into the bedroom to take little David out in the kitchen for his lunch. You wondered why Selim would have run away, if that's what he did, after acting so passive and innocent during the entire movie?
There's a lot you can find wrong with Costa-Gavras' "Hanna K" but one thing that can be said in it's favor is that the film addresses issues about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that almost all films, that are very few in number, about the subject never dare to even touch.
Costa-Gavras has superbly captured the mood and atmosphere of Jerusalem and its diverse people in this sombre work. It's an intriguing film for that reason alone. But he also has set a complex story with fascinating characters on that unique stage. You have to work at watching it a bit, but the effort is worthwhile. It's also one of Jill Clayburgh's best roles
A daring movie that hits the truth, goes against the stream, and explore the tragedy. The film is well worth watching, especially for those who are only familiar with one side of the conflict. I recommend it for people seeking understanding of the middle east. Hope you enjoy it.
Contrary to the comment by "pusic, Israel" (who may be somewhat biased
in not wanting people to know anything about what Palestinians endure),
I saw this movie a couple of times many years ago, on 'cable'.
Naturally, it has never been shown on regular TV...
It concerns a Palestinian who was accused of something, and who is defended by a Jewish American female lawyer (Jill Clayburgh). It is to be noted that the cast includes both Jewish Israeli and Arab actors, in addition to Jill and French actors.
I found the movie interesting and refreshing in its condition of being an example of something of which we should see a lot more, if Hollywood studios were run by different people. As it is, I can't think of any other movie which relates to the West Bank and/or Gaza and takes place in the times since 1967.
Costa-Gavras raises some interesting and valid points here that are just as relevant today as they were 18 years ago.But like all backstage quarterbacks regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict he doesn't offer any suggestions to solve the problem.The real problem with this film though lies in Jill Clayburgh's performance.It never rises above a "TV Movie" level and she drags the whole cast and the story down with her.I think if somebody like Meryl Streep had starred in this picture,it would have been a completely different movie.
Far from successful movie makes some distinctly weird artistic choices, right up to the last scene The rather adventurous underlying structure (Hanna's emotional confusion and attempt to forge a workable life and career, while poised between a politically and ideologically adventurous mix of men) needs a far more dynamic, less portentous telling than is employed here. The movie is mostly tedious and arbitrary and seems like a very odd way of approaching the undoubtedly important underlying issues. Clayburgh isn't a very exciting presence, and the men around her just float in and out - the forging of oppositions and conflicts leads us not to a heightened appreciation of the broader politics but just to melodramatic excess (for example, D.A. Byrne opposes her in court with particular enmity, but later - despite little apparent chemistry - she has a child with him even though their differences remain largely unreconciled : you just stare blankly at all this...)
There is a good movie to be made of the Israel-Palestine conflict; but
this is not it. The leading character is portrayed as a cipher, whose
opinion sways according to which of her lovers -- the public
prosecutor, or her Palestinian client -- she most recently slept with.
It is an insult to the few Israeli women lawyers courageous enough to
defend Palestinian clients, and I think they should sue for defamation.
Although it is laudable that Costa-Gavras attempts to show the suffering, and the struggle, of Palestinians expelled by the nascent Israeli state in 1948, this movie almost reduces them to bit players in the internal conflict of a confused woman. It does a disservice to both the Palestinian struggle and its own heroine. Costa-Gavras should be capable of much better than this tawdry pot-boiler.
This is without any doubt one of the worst movies ever made. The plot is all obscured,although it's not meant to be that way. You have the feeling that the director wanted to get this farce over with and return to his sun bed. Do yourselves a huge favour and don't waste your time on this one.
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