zaterdag 6 juni 2015

Today's Review: Dancing Arabs

Finally another review up. Another one to come soon, I promise.

Dancing Arabs - recensie

Not the best way to tackle a topic about identity. The first act of the movie differs in huge ways from the last and despite a light touch of wry humour applied to the scenes between both, you cannot help but wonder how the one (d)evolved into the other so distinctly. Opening on a comedic tone bordering on the absurd, at the end of the film you're watching a heavy emotional drama about a young man's life altered forever. Of course people change over the years, especially under the less than perfect conditions the protagonist lives through, but the viewer has a hard time accepting the unfolding of events in the way told here, and ultimately feels like he/she is watching two separate movies slapped together. It's not wrong to apply some humour to a topic otherwise devoid of that sense, especially if it helps to underscore both parties have more in common than apart. But it must feel like a coherent whole to make it work for audiences. In some ways, the writer says that any sense of optimism  Israeli Arab youths harbour in their country will only be squashed by the rampant discrimination they undergo in their formative years, and thus they will inevitably end up as unhappy, pessimist young adults. Maybe that is exactly what the screenwriter wants us to think, considering it's the conclusion he himself drew eventually, which made him move to the USA for good. At the same time however, the plot tells us there is plenty of positive things that could have avoided the bleak outcome presented here. It's not like the protagonist didn't have any friends or couldn't find love. Eventually, it was his own choices that hindered his career as much, if not more so, as the social exclusion on which the film closes.

It's not the Arabs that are dancing in this film, it's the writing that makes the plot dance around various possible outcomes and makes it pick the bleakest where it need not have, and considering the tone of the opening, should not have. Case in point: the life of the writer himself, who did very well in his career despite very similar conditions. And it's the audience that suffers most, by being offered a rather unsettling and unsatisfying close.

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