Whimsical but thought-provoking take on the Middle East conflict
Opens January 17, Cert 15, 92 mins
In a surreal opening sequence, a gang of boys pursue an anxious Father Christmas across the desert scrub of Nazareth. Later on, a red balloon bearing a cartoon image of Yassar Arafat creates panic among the Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Elia Suleiman’s film repeatedly combines the overtly political with the absurd or comical. It’s a clever device which highlights the dilemma of the secular Palestinian, torn between liberal instincts and a rage at injustice.
Suleiman, who also appears in the film, turns the horrors of daily life into something fantastical?a carelessly tossed apricot stone detonates a tank; a Palestinian woman collects bullets like a halo, then fires them back at the Israeli soldiers. A film with a light touch but a heavy heart, it’s similar in pace and tone to Roy Andersson’s Songs From The Second Floor. Seemingly unrelated vignettes?a feud over rubbish, the lovers who can never get through the checkpoint to meet each other, a bus stop that nothing stops at any more?gradually build into a satisfying, thought-provoking whole.