Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:08 pm 
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PREVIEW. My full review will be found here.

Growing up on both sides of the fence in Israel

Conventional in style, obvious in its contrasts, overly-fanciful in its latter part, Erin Riklis' recent film Dancing Arabs, aka A Borrowed Identity, nonetheless (as Jay Weissberg says in Variety) is one of his more complex efforts, dealing as it does with the tricky identity problems involved in the coming of age of a bright Israeli Palestinian Arab who winds up leaving his little Israeli Arab village to attend an elite Hebrew boarding school in Jerusalem with an attractive Jewish girlfriend and a world of confusion. Things are helped considerably by the lead performance of Tewfeek Barhom, with a sensitive face and a personal background that, in his words, was "tailor-made" for this role, which replays conflicts he himself has experienced as a linguistically assimilated Israeli Arab. He even has the same last name as the protagonist he plays, Eyad Barhom. Tawfeek is both charismatic and subtle in the role, despite a script that, while interesting (and dealing with incredibly fraught subject matter) relies a little too much on stereotypes and wish-fulfillment.

A Borrowed Identity, original title Dancing Arabs, 104 mins., in Arabic and Hebrew,debuted at Jerusalem (though fears of rockets caused a opening night cancellation); and at, Locarno internationally, Telluride in the US in July and August 2014. Screened for this review as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival, May 2015. It opened in France with the title Mon fils ("My Son"), with good reviews (AlloCiné press rating of 3.5). A NYC theatrical release is set for 26 June 2015. Strand will release in California in July.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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