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In Majdal Shams, the largest Druze village in Golan Heights on the Israeli-Syrian border, the Druze bride Mona is engaged to get married with Tallel, a television comedian that works in the Revolution Studios in Damascus, Syria. They have never met each other because of the occupation of the area by Israel since 1967; when Mona moves to Syria, she will lose her undefined nationality and will never be allowed to return home. Mona's father Hammed is a political activist pro-Syria that is on probation by the Israeli government. His older son Hatten married a Russian woman eight years ago and was banished from Majdal Shams by the religious leaders and his father. His brother Marwan is a wolf trader that lives in Italy. His sister Amal has two teenager daughters and has the intention to join the university, but her marriage with Amin is in crisis. When the family gathers for Mona's wedding, an insane bureaucracy jeopardizes the ceremony. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A wedding in the family, usually a happy event for everyone involved, turns out to be a sad affair. This particular one will mark the destiny of Mona, a young Druze woman living in the Golan Heights, now under Israeli rule. Like her parents, Mona considers herself Syrian. She stands to lose the privilege of ever going back, even for a visit, when she crosses the border where her future husband, a Syrian actor, awaits for her with his own entourage.
"The Syrian Bride" was a surprise. Directed with honesty by Eran Riklis, who also co-wrote the screen play with Suha Arraf, the film takes no sides between one faction, or another. In many ways, the movie seems to be sympathetic toward the Druze family, but in no way it felt preachy, or frankness in its presentation of what goes on in that troubled part of the world.
The family at the center of the story is not a happy one. The father, Hammed, has been in prison for his pro-Syrian views. He has also estranged himself from his two sons, Hattem, who has married a Russian doctor and now lives abroad and Marwan, a businessman of sorts, based in Italy. The oldest daughter, Amal, a sensitive woman, has a troubled marriage herself to a man who can't understand her need to assert herself and go to college. It is a male dominated society where women don't seem to have much to contribute except have children and be housewives.
Most impressive in the film is Hiam Abbass, an actress we have admired from her previous work, notably, "Satin Rouge" and "Paradise Now". She has a quiet way of getting under the skin of the role she is playing; this woman shows such dignity in her work that it's hard to take ones eyes from her once she is on the screen. Makram Khoury is seen as the patriarch, Hammed. Clare Khoury is also effective as the bride who must leave family and friends to go to another world. Eyad Sheety and Ashraf Barhom play the two brothers.
"The Syrian Bride" is a satisfying film by Eran Riklis, a talented director who shows great sensibility toward the material.
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