Friday, January 18, 2008

The Syrian Bride

The Syrian Bride; Tragicomedy, Syria/ Israel/ Germany, 2004; D: Eran Riklis, S: Clara Khoury, Hiam Abbas, Makram Khoury, Ashraf Barhom, Eyad Sheety, Evelyn Kaplun, Julie-Anne Roth

Mona is a young Druze woman living on the Golan Heights, former Syrian territory now under Israeli control. On her wedding day, she is sad instead of happy, because she is about to enter an arranged marriage with a TV actor from Syria whom she never met, and on top of everything when she leaves Golan and crosses into Syria, she will never be able to return to her family. Her family unites: besides her father Hammed, there is also her brother Hattem who married a Jewish girl, sister Amal, and second brother Marwan. Once gathered at the no man's land, on the border, the Syrian officials refuse Mona to enter Syria because of her Israeli passport. Still, the bride spontaneously starts walking towards Syrian border.

"The Syrian Bride" is another contribution to the long list of films that tackle the Arab-Israeli conflict and avoid becoming a political propaganda by giving it a human face, in this instance through the perspective of a wedding on the Golan Heights divided between Israel and Syria. Light and elegant, but also subtly ambitious, with good characters and portrail of their mentality (the scene where the Arabs protest on the Golan demanding it must reunite with Syria), nice nuances between it's humane messages and amusing humor, "Bride" is an easily accessible achievement that never drags without a purpose, while the director Eran Riklis has a fine rhythm and a steady director's hand that avoids pretentiousness. Clara Khoury is great as the bride in turmoil and her wedding turns into a tragicomic spectacle: instead of happiness, she is sad, while the cameraman records how she and her family have to pass the bureaucratic border control to get to the 'no man's land', from which she has to go to Syria alone to meet her future husband. It's a one note concept, but it sends a clear tragic message that refuses to be placed on either side, portraying politics as an absurd farce that only makes people's lives more difficult than they are. The movie isn't anything spectacular, but under it's given plans and limitations, it works to the fullest.


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