A thought-provoking screenplay by Arab-Israeli Seyad Kashua makes this my favorite foreign film of 2015. The political situation in the Middle East, as well as the distrust and prejudice between the Arab and Israeli cultures provides the compelling and tense backdrop for this complex, multi-layered film.
Eyad (Razi Gabareen) is a Palestinian born in Israel, but the vast majority of Israeli Arabs are second-class citizens. Most Arabs in Israel wind up working menial jobs and are denied better career opportunities. Fortunately, Eyad is a genius, so he gets accepted by the best boarding school in Jerusalem, although he is the only Arab student there. A very pretty student, Naomi (Danielle Kitsis), is attracted to him, and a romance develops. Their love, however, is buffeted by the twister of their circumstances.
Eyad also becomes friends with a male Jewish student, Yonatan (Michael Moshonov), who is struggling due to muscular dystrophy. He also bonds with Yonatan’s devoted mother, Edna (Yael Abeccassis).
With just about every avenue for a better life as an Arab Israeli blocked, Eyad takes advantage of a rare opportunity to pass for a Jewish Israeli. I don’t want to reveal any more about the plot, but the Israeli Director (Eran Riklis) gets terrific performances from the ensemble cast. As a Jew, I found it a well-balanced movie, clearly illustrating the prejudices and difficulties the Palestinian Israelis face, yet Jewish Israelis reach out and help him, treating him as one of their own.
It won’t break any box office records, so it is on “borrowed” time. I’d try to see it soon before it leaves the theaters, although it will work fine as a rental.