A young 15 year old girl, Lamia, lives in a southern Lebanese village on the border with Israel. She is given in marriage to her cousin on the other side of the border. As Lamia crosses the... See full summary »
A young 15 year old girl, Lamia, lives in a southern Lebanese village on the border with Israel. She is given in marriage to her cousin on the other side of the border. As Lamia crosses the barbed wire she also passes from childhood into adulthood, as brutal as our countries and the events that are to follow. Written by
Lebanese cinema has no major work that could find a place in world cinema--this film is arguably the first to make a name for the fledgling cinema. It won a jury prize at the Venice Film festival in 2003. I caught up with this film at the recent Dubai Film Festival.
The fourth or fifth feature film of Randa Chahal Sabag zeroes in on the Druze community, living on both sides of the Lebanon-Israel border. The community identifies itself with Muslims but adapts with the Jews, and even enrolls in the Israeli army. And the Druze are thinkers. While the film is not about the political situation, political tension provides the backdrop of a love story of certain young individuals.
The love story involves three principal characters: a young teenager on the Lebanese side who has recently attained puberty and has to be married by the family diktat to a distant relation on the Israeli side; her fiancé who is a decent, educated, sensitive man who is forced to accept the marriage; and a young Druze militiaman who watches bride cross the international boundary to get married. The militiaman falls in love as he records the process of the marriage and movements of the bride back and forth across the border. The bride seem to respond in spirit; yet she is defiant and honest in not accepting the forced relationship with her husband.
As Randa Sabag the director, is a woman, the main character of the young female teenager is pivotal to the film. She is so young and unafraid of being shot as she ventures to retrieve a kite on the other side of the border. Is she immature in her actions? She cares for her younger sibling more than herself. This action is interpreted as heroism by the community. Much later the same woman, fondles a dead foetus, just as a kid would play with a doll. It is not strange that later in the film she is antagonistic to her husband and reveals that she loves someone else--more out of childishness than out of maturity. The stoic yet beautiful face of Flavia Bechara as the young woman is fascinating as you wonder if there is indeed some maturity in the character that she is playing.
All the three characters come through as likable, positive, honest individuals--not heroes but young sensitive people. Quite in contrast, the older characters are confused, stupid, deaf, lecherous, and impotent.
At a level beyond the love story--that ends in a stylized dream crossing at the borders--Sabag seems to suggest that the youth will tear down the physical borders set up by older forces. For Arab cinema, this is an above average work from the region, both in quality (direction, acting and camera-work) and subject (screenplay), but it unfortunately is not great cinema by any stretch of imagination. One of its major drawbacks is the constant reversal to songs that do not serve as a distinct punctuation or prop of the story, especially when the film is not a musical.
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