Eye For Film >> Movies >> Dancing Arabs (2014) Film Review
Reviewed by: Richard Mowe
Dealing with the subject of relations between the Israelis and the Arab community at such a volatile time gives added impetus to the latest feature by Eran Riklis although he gives it distance by setting it in the relatively recent past during the time of the intifada and the Gulf War.
Eyad (Tawfeek Barhum) is an Arab youngster from the Arab-Israeli town of Tira, who is sent by his parents to a prestigious Jewish boarding school in Jerusalem, where he finds himself struggling with questions of language, culture, and identity.
The young man constantly seems to be on the run – from who he is, from what he is supposed to be, and from what is expected of him. His family have to learn to live with both their Arab identity and also Israeli nationality. Inevitably this results in countless conflicts and suspicions, on all sides.
Eyad’s integration in the boarding school, where he is the first and only Arab student, is fraught with difficulties as well as prejudice. He becomes a figure of fun because of his Arab way of speaking (in which Ps become Bs).
Despite these difficulties he shows himself to be an excellent student, who succeeds in his exams. Along the way he falls in love with Naomi (Danielle Kitzis) who helps him get rid of his Arab accent, but the relationship alienates her parents.
Eyad is assigned to help a fellow student, Jonathan (Michael Moshonov), who suffers from muscular dystrophy and cannot move from his wheelchair. He spends time at his house helping his mother with care duties while striking up a close friendship with them both.
At home there is a rift with his father after he decides to renounce his studies. The father, Salah (Ali Suliman), began university studies in Jerusalem, but political activity saw him arrested in 1969, and after serving a prison sentence he returned home to become a lowly fruit picker, hence his keen interest in his son’s education.
The narrative, based on a novel by co-screenwriter Sayed Kashua, veers off course only in the final scenes and an implausible resolution. Up to that point Riklis and his uniformly excellent cast hit nary a false note, which given the subject is no mean achievement.Reviewed on: 10 Aug 2014