3 Hours

3 Hours


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

On the 27th of March, 2007, a group of gunmen attacked children playing football. While the terrorists, insurgents, however they might be labelled, sped off, the neighbourhood, already home to ethnic tensions, erupted into armed conflict. That fighting lasted for the three hours of the title.

Regan Hall's film is diverting, but never quite lives up to its goals. It's certainly affecting. Without being privy to every decision made we cannot know how much influence cultural advisor Osama Salami had, but as a depiction it seems fair. However, Sam Snape's script has a lot to work to do, and in the small space afforded to it by being a short it doesn't quite manage it.

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We get a sense of tension, but not much - to some readers in the British isles sectarian strife is nothing new, but we don't see it as an undercurrent here, merely as bloodshed. That lack of subtlety, however caused, extends to Bari Parrot's score. It feels heavy-handed in places, intrusive.

There may not have been room to make a film that developed slowly, but there was certainly opportunity to do so in this story. Certainly taking your time is no guarantee of success, as Putty Hill demonstrates for example, but a measured pace and attention to detail are two of the things that make The Red Machine so good. Without room to expand, then, 3 Hours needs an efficiency that it doesn't possess.

Briefly glimpsed as the lead militant, Assad Sayath delivers a performance that is unsettling and unobtrusive in equal measure. As Akram, Mohammed Jawed manages filial concern and rage well, though we see only a small amount of Rafat Basel as his younger brother. The cast deliver good performances, but not enough for the burden they're expected to carry.

Finished as this was with the aid of the UK Film Council's Completion Fund, one wonders what the producers' original goal was. In the true story there's room for a narrative more compelling than the one that we're given, and a bigger canvas would hopefully have enabled Hall et al to reveal more, to suggest more, to do more. Unfortunately, three hours doesn't fit in a quarter, and for all its good intentions and the ability of those involved, 3 Hours doesn't work.

Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2010
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Recreation of an incident in Iraq in which nine children were massacred by militants.
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Director: Regan Hall

Writer: Sam Snape

Starring: Diana Adel, Mohammed Jawad, Nasser Mutar, Naseem Baha, Rafat Basel, Abdullah Amer, Hind Kamel

Year: 2010

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: UK, Jordan


EIFF 2010

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