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Tuesday, July 31, 2018


(Image from the poster)

This excellent Palestinian movie was awarded the Best Feature Film prize at the 2018 Durban Film Festival and may return on the commercial circuit. (Review by Patrick Compton)

Clearly there is no such thing as ordinary marital infidelity in Israel, at least when the partners are an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man.

Sarah and Saleem, to put it bluntly, have the hots for each other, no more, no less. She is a cafĂ© owner and the wife of an Israeli army colonel who lives in west Jerusalem. He is a Palestinian who lives in the eastern section. He’s short of money and is anxious about how he will support his wife and forthcoming child. Neither of them is “political”.

The couple are initially fairly careful about their liaison, sneaking time together to make love in his bakery van. One evening, however, Saleem says he has to make a delivery in Bethlehem. She is on the point of calling off the appointment, but, loath to miss out on a passion session, decides to accompany him.

At this stage, the movie – the feature film debut of Muayad Alayan and written by his brother Rami – takes on political and feminist dimensions in an almost thriller format that holds its audience intrigued and tense as events build to a climax.

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem is essentially a film about power, concerning those who have it (the Israelis) and those who don’t (the Palestinians). Thankfully, the movie is not as simplistic as this sounds with the Alayan brothers eschewing didacticism and creating a convincingly nuanced portrait of life in one of the most highly contested and complex countries in the world.

Although the movie is 127 minutes long, the film’s pacing is impeccable and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s hard to know whether the film will return to Durban on the commercial circuit, but there are grounds for hoping it will, principally because it’s a well-acted, tautly delivered human drama that should appeal to a wider audience. - Patrick Compton