Divine Intervention

Divine Intervention


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Even the title is misleading. What's God got to do with it?

A Palestinian film, made in the Occupied Territories, is going to be a) anti-Israeli, b) brutally uncompromising, c) a docudrama about humiliation, deprivation, subjugation. Audiences will go out of sympathy to support the cause, not for night time entertainment.

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Elia Suleiman turns expectation on its head. Divine Intervention is an absurdist comedy that fits no category and avoids every stereotype. It is practically a silent movie, relying on sound effects, rather than dialogue.

It is difficult to comprehend on first viewing. What appears to be a series of unconnected incidents have one thing in common - silly behaviour. Logic doesn't live here anymore.

Why does the angry old man fill crates with empty bottles on his roof? What is the significance of the beautiful girl in dark glasses, who sits in the car with a sad-eyed companion who never speaks? Are the border guards drunk, or stupid, or both? Is the red Arafat balloon an implement of satire, or a symbol of despair?

The visual gags appear propaganda-free. Suleiman captures moments of idiocy and irony, such as heart patients in hospital who tear off their tubes in the middle of the night to snatch a fag in the corridor.

The film's originality excuses an absence of storyline. The opening shot of Santa Claus being chased up a hill by a gang of youths is never explained. Surely, Suleiman implies, sophisticated Western moviegoers won't ask.

Scenes at the border post confirm the public service cock-up theory, which states that the usefulness of political decisions are in direct proportion to the mental capacity of those carrying them out. Nothing changes; boys with guns behave badly.

Reviewed on: 15 Jan 2003
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Absurdist comedy from the heart of the Occupied Territories, Palestine.
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Director: Elia Suleiman

Writer: Elia Suleiman

Starring: Elia Suleiman, Manal Khader, Nayef Fahoum Daher, Menashe Noy, Emma Boltawski, Salman Nattor

Year: 2001

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: France/Morocco/Germany/Palestine


Palestine 2009

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