1967. The world is alive with change: brimming with reawakened energy, new styles, music and an infectious sense of hope. In Jordan, a different kind of change is underway as tens of ... See full summary »
1967. The world is alive with change: brimming with reawakened energy, new styles, music and an infectious sense of hope. In Jordan, a different kind of change is underway as tens of thousands of refugees pour across the border from Palestine. Having been separated from his father in the chaos of war, Tarek, 11, and his mother Ghaydaa, are amongst this latest wave of refugees. Placed in "temporary" refugee camps made up of tents and prefab houses until they would be able to return, they wait, like the generation before them who arrived in 1948. With difficulties adjusting to life in Harir camp and a longing to be reunited with his father, Tarek searches a way out, and discovers a new hope emerging with the times. Eventually his free spirit and curious nature lead him to a group of people on a journey that will change their lives. When I Saw You is the story of people affected by the times around them, in search of something more in their lives. A journey full of adventure, love, humor... Written by
Lamma Shoftak Co.
The film is a stylish, well-acted piece of agitprop, with fine cinematography and pretty good production values overall, and with a core plot line that is deeply touching, reflecting reality as it must have been lived by millions in the times (just after the 67 war) in which it is set. Until the final sequence, which is more than over the top and breaks with the fairly rigorous realism of the rest, it avoids a lot of the overemphatic character drawing and acting that afflicts so much Arab filmmaking.
There have been Palestinian films of yet greater subtlety, but the filmmaker is to be commended for leaving the Israelis offscreen (save for some ghostly Land Rovers out on patrol). The story line starts with the intimate, day-to-day realities of life in the refugee camps, made to appear pretty much like life anywhere at first and then, progressively and with commendable restraint, shown to be unbearable. Tarek, the small boy at the center of the film, apparently both dyslexic and mathematically gifted, is perhaps just a little too adorable, but the young actor is well-directed and mostly believable in his childish obsession with returning home and finding his father, oblivious to danger or to the reality involved in getting there. His mother is superbly acted, showing devotion to her son, but a wide range of other human feelings, including fed-upness, as well, all done with great understatement.
For many, there will be some wistful nostalgia (and for others, perhaps, snorts of derision) at the depiction of a then-embryonic Palestinian resistance in which young men and women mix freely as comrades, and in which the only Book in use is the little red one of Chairman Mao. Not a hint of piety in the whole film, not even a call to prayer in the distance. Different times.
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