I did not know what the movie was about so when it started my first reaction was: "Oh no! not another movie on Jewish suffering!" I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this time the movie was about the Palestinian plight.
Kudos to that I say, nevertheless I found the story confusing. I am a fan of Julian Schnabel's work as director, but I expected more after The Bell-jar and the Butterfly which in my book was a masterpiece.
Miral (not an apt title for the subject matter) takes its time before getting to the main story and protagonist, telling first the tale of 3 other women: Her mother Nadia; Fatima the terrorist; and Hind the school master and surrogate mother to all orphans. Miral's arrival on the scene is almost an afterthought, hinted at by Nadia's vomit attack upon arriving in jail -if she is sickened by fear or by baby is not clear until much later on.
I wished the director let the people speak in Arabic and add subtitles -which were used only in the beginning- it would have made for a less Anglo-centric flavored film and the written text would have allowed the audience to catch important dialog that was otherwise drowned by the soundtrack. What Fatima says to the man who later becomes Nadia's husband, for example, would have explained later events. Same for what was exchanged between Miral and the Intifada member at the funeral, important words muffled in music.
Because of this and the confusing ways of past and present scenes mixing without a clear way to distinguish between them, the storyline of the movie was unclear, and so was its perception similar to walking in the dark, intuiting the outline of things but not getting the full picture.
All actors were good but Hiam Abass who played Hind stood out. Freida Pinto does not look authentic, I read she is of Indian heritage, but her beauty made the distressing story more bearable, if distracting.
Aside from this, it was refreshing to see a movie on this subject matter, produced and directed by major names in the movie industry. To see the Israeli seen as "bad guys" was almost shocking, what with the Jewish propaganda we get out of Hollywood all the time. The world needs to see Palestinian heroes, if nothing else to balance the way Arabs in general are portrayed in the movies. A movie worth seeing if NOT the ultimate picture on the subject.
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