Eye For Film >> Movies >> Strangers (2007) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
Eyal and Rana are the strangers on a train - in this case a Berlin subway - where their bags get switched by accident. Both in town for the World Cup finals, the pair agree to meet up to swap bags and before long that's not all they're swapping - and it's to the credit of writer/directors Erez Tadmor and Guy Nattiv that this gradual but swiftly-moving romance never feels contrived or forced. The only trouble in this particular paradise is that Eyal is Israeli, while Rana is Palestinian. When events cause the action to switch to Paris, it seems their history, both personal and cultural, could well strike the death knell of their relationship.
The idea of using a love affair between an Israeli and a Palestinian as a metaphor for the conflict between the communities, sounds ripe for disaster – but by making the audience care about the central story - namely, the relationship between the two characters - Tadmor and Nattiv give an insight into the politics rather than beating you over the head with them. That there is a constant backdrop of news reports about troubles in the Lebannon also serves to anchor the action in a very real time and place, irradicating any sense of the fey that might otherwise creep in to the pair's romance.
Eyal and Rana - while acknowledging the gulf that divides them - are continually striving for compromise, as one of them says when the subject gets too close for comfort as they drink in a bar, "I don't think we'll find a solution tonight."
The use of handheld cameras throughout gives the action a strong sense of reality, complemented by perfectly pitched performances by Liron Levo and Lubna Azabal. There is plenty of attention to naturalistic detail, too - I doubt you're going to see a character with sock marks in any other love scene this year.
The scripting is practically faultless, each scene playing out with an air of spontaneity and the handling of a subplot involving a child (Abdallah El Akal) is expertly realised with the same sense of naturalism. The only criticism to be made is of the occasional use voice over, which detracts from the 'reality' and feels largely extraneous. Energetic, immediate and defiantly hopeful this is an emotional ride that will also give you pause for thought.Reviewed on: 10 May 2008
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