Thursday, February 2, 2023

A deeply human drama in an Arab village

 Sami (Alex Bakri) is a sad man, so sad that he seldom smiles or warmly engages with others. Sami’s mood colors nearly everything in Let It Be Morning, the story of a Arab/Israeli citizen who returns to his small village for his brother’s wedding.
  Don't be misled, Let It Be Morning is no nostalgic chronicle of a homecoming. After the Israeli army seals off the village, Sami becomes stranded in a political and personal limbo: He's uncomfortable being away from his fast-paced life in Tel Aviv and the mistress who seems to exemplify a typical midlife crisis.
   Sami and his wife Mira, played by Juna Suleiman, have a much loved young son but Suleiman makes it clear that Mira understands the reality of a life that has stagnated.
   Directed by Eran Kolirin (The Band's Visit), Let It Be Morning relies fine performances from Bakri and Suleiman to enhance its low-key, character-driven approach.
  The Arab community depicted in Let It Be Morning, adapted from a novel by Palestinian writer Sayed Kashua, isn't unified. Some villagers want to cooperate with the Israelis, who have blockaded the village as part of a campaign to identify illegal West Bank Palestinians who are seeking work. Others want to protest.
   Ehab Salami portrays Abed, a newly minted cabbie who has accumulated crippling debt to buy his vehicle. Once a friend, Abed has become a source of embarrassment for Sami. His insistent presence pushes Sami to face a background he thought he had shed. 
   Simple on its surface, Let It Be Morning leaves viewers with much to digest; the movie stands as a quietly realized counterpoint to current newspaper accounts about Israeli/Arab conflict. 
   That's not to say that the conflict is ignored but that Kolirin takes a  humane approach to tension as his characters struggle to find their footing.
   Let It Be Morning makes it impossible to overlook the humanity of people whom we might otherwise meet only in news reports. Kolirin tells a story about complex characters living in a complex situation over which they don't always have control. In other words, his movie  mirrors life.

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