Friday, May 10, 2013

Zaytoun

An Israeli fighter pilot is shot down over Lebanon during the 1982 conflict and finds himself in the hands of a group of very pissed off Palestinian refugees. Among the refugees is a young boy who recently lost his father in a bombing raid, and who has become a rabid future warrior for Palestine. But his father's fondest wish was to plant a tree on the family land once Palestinians returned to Israel, and the fighter pilot is the only one who can help.

Can you say road trip/buddy movie?

Yeah. No joke: This is a buddy movie where the buddies are a young Palestinian would-be terrorist and an Israeli fighter pilot, and the road trip they're on is to cross Lebanon into Israel during the war.

You just aren't going to see this coming out of Hollywood. And it's actually a very entertaining ride.

They, of course, must become buddies, however improbable. But the fate of the road trip, at least for young Fahed, is not certain. Even if they can get back to Israel, Fahed doesn't really know where the old homestead was, and a lot of these places were not recorded on Israeli maps, apparently. Also, there's the whole business of having a radicalized Palestinian running around Israel.

It's maybe a little too pat, in the Hollywood style, but it's still very winning, with Stephen Dorff (the only actor we knew of in the entire film festival) playing the pilot and Abdulla El Akal playing Fahed.  It manages to cram a little zaniness in the most unlikely spots, along with some real danger, genuine tragedy and the sort of impartial non-judgmentalism that's characteristic of a lot of these Israel films (and probably isn't super-warranted, frankly).

A good movie to close out the IFF with.

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