Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Band's Visit

Biku Ha-Tizmoret; Tragicomedy, Israel/ France, 2007; D: Eran Kolirin, S: Sasson Gabai, Ronit Elkabetz, Saleh Bakri

The Alexandria Police Orchestra, consisting of eight uniformed men, visit Israel to perform at some Arab cultural center in Petah Tiqva. Unfortunately, when their bus doesn't show up, they mistakenly take a bus to Bet Hatikva and get lost. Still, a nice restaurant owner, Dina, helps them find accommodation and makes friends with the Orchestra leader Tawfiq. The next day, they part and go to perform at the center.

"The Band's Visit" is a gentle comedy on mutual understanding between two cultures equipped with a minimalistic style reminiscent of Kaurismaki or Jarmusch. Director Eran Kolirin focused more on his thematic intention in the movie - that Arabs and Jews can communicate and cooperate hand in hand just like ordinary people, without any problem - than on artistic enrichment of the rather thin and light story, which is why "Band" is hardly unforgettable, yet he simply has charm. The sparse mood is the strongest when the actors have an opportunity to show their skills, like when Dina (very good Ronit Elkabetz) mischievously places her hair curve over her lip, as if she has a moustache, or when she mimics the hand moves of Tawfiq who shows her how he conducts the orchestra. These are the moments "Band" works the best, since its constitution seems to be more inclined towards humor than those dramatic moments which seem underdeveloped.


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