Artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel latest film is not similar to his previous movies where in my opinion art and filmmaking merged more successfully; maybe first half of this movie, before Miral becomes the center story, camera moves and editing look and feel artier but everything changes to more “normal” narrative when the little girl becomes a teenager. Then this so-called controversial movie because of the story it tells, is to my eyes and ears not really controversial as tells a known story, Israel/Palestine conflict, told from the Palestine point-of-view, which also has been told in films like for example Elia Suleiman’s The Time That Remains that I believe was more emotionally successful conveying what Palestinians had to live since the Israel state was created thanks to extraordinary use of dark comedy.
Based on a novel by Rula Jebreal, who did the screenplay and seems is real life Schnabel companion, film tells the story of Miral but for more than half the movie you will not see her as the actual story told is about Hind Husseini, marvelously played by Hiam Abbass, the wealthy woman that takes in her house orphan children from the 1948 war with the orphanage eventually becoming a school for girls that still exists today. Not only this part of the story is visually told more interesting but also story and Abbass performances are compelling. Miral story per se is interesting but I believe that was not translated into the screen in a compelling way as you can’t sympathize with her not-really-shown struggle deciding between becoming active in the urban guerilla or do something to promote peace.
Not exactly what I was hoping from Schnabel and end-product is not as interesting as could or should have been as telling the story of four women Hindi Husseini, Nadia (Miral’s mother), Fatima (Nadia’s cell mate) and Miral HAD to be more interesting especially when most of what happens is true life facts and reality.
Can’t recommend the movie but have to share that story got me curious, so curious that think will read the book by Rula Jebreal as I need to know details that so obviously were left out in the movie. Still IF you’re interested in a Palestinian vision from the Israel-Palestine conflict I strongly suggest you to watch Elia Suleiman marvelous The Time That Remains, but be prepared for non-conventional art cinema.
Watch trailer @MOC