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Rodney El Haddad,
Nada Abou Farhat
Since his early years in his native Gaza, Mohammed Assaf has had a golden voice. Accompanied by his sister Nour and two of his friends, he sings in courtyards first and later at weddings while Kamal helps him to develop the full range of his vocal capacities. Nour unfortunately dies of kidney failure and Mohammed grows up in sorrow and bitterness, all the more as war strikes his hometown. In 2012, he is a student and drives a taxi to finance his studies. He wants to start singing again but he can envisage singing as a career only in leaving Gaza. His only hope is to participate in the famous "Arab Idol" contest. But how to leave the place without a visa?Written by
I want to like this movie. It's got heart and a certain charm even if it coasts on that for too long.
It's quite disorientating how we jump in time from the childhood to the present, to some extent leaving the first half of the movie somewhat irrelevant to its actual plot except to just lay thematic groundwork.
In that respect it's also lacking. A big part of it seems to be the desperation to get out of Gaza and the struggle of living there but I never really got any impression of it being a particularly bad place to live, minus its lack of healthcare subsidizations. I enjoyed watching these kids fight against all odds in trying to be musicians but unfortunately that is not what this movie is ultimately about.
When you have a cute little girl in your main cast I make some concessions but losing your best character half way through is a bit of a blow. It's really just a manufactured way of trying to touch emotional buttons but it is as crass as the real reality shows that this is about.
When we do move in time, there is again, very little groundwork really laid and I struggled to adjust to this new actor as the character I was already familiar with, more due to the pacing rather than anything wrong with the actor though.
More manufactured conflict comes from this devout friend who works at border control which had very little build up to an underdeveloped character that again resolves way too easily. There really aren't high stakes in this movie and its hard to get excited by the end now the charming, childhood in semi-quasi-poverty is over.
I did not watch this is one setting and also, bizarly, the movie goes on for like 20 minutes even when all meaningful conflict has been resolved.
It's a true (though embellished) story of how one person's struggle to make something of their talent despite the struggles of war that after the fact became somewhat of the cultural icon, but that aspect of the narrative is kind of tacked on.
Some excellent music though.I must get into Arab pop, I don't know why I haven't yet.
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