Syrian Bride (2005) My review

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Syrian Bride (2005) My review

Postby howardschumann(d) » Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:45 pm


Directed by Eran Riklis (2004)

After Israel took the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 war, 17,000 ethnic Druze, whose people had been living in the area for centuries, suddenly found their lives fractured and their families divided by an impassable border. In spite of substantial economic and educational gains made under Israeli rule, the Druze of the Golan still consider themselves to be Syrians living under Israeli occupation. They do not intermingle with Israelis, refuse to hold Israeli passports, and live in their own villages. A French/German/Israeli co-production, The Syrian Bride tells the story of one such family as they prepare to attend their daughter's wedding on the Syrian border. It is primarily a comedy yet it is also a poignant drama that takes no sides but attempts to put the political turmoil in the region into a humanistic context.

Mona (Clara Khoury), a young Druze bride is to be wed to Syrian TV-star Tallel (Derar Sliman) from Damascus, a man she has never met. Since neither country recognizes the other diplomatically, once the bride crosses the border to Syria, she will never be allowed to return to Israel and her wedding day, usually a day of great joy, may be one of her saddest. While the film tells us much about the sad realities of the political fragmentation in the Middle East, it is also a story with social and cultural ramifications. Mona's sister Amal (Hiyam Abbas), whose expressive face frames the film's beginning and end, is stuck in an unhappy marriage. She wants to attend Haifa University but is thwarted by her husband Amin (Adnan Trabshi) who is afraid of losing face in the village and of relinquishing "control".

Mona's father Hammed (Makram Khoury), a pro-Syrian agitator known to Israeli police, is forbidden to travel to the Syrian border to say goodbye to his daughter. He harbors resentment and refuses to welcome his son Hattem (Eyad Sheety) and his Russian wife home from Moscow because he broke family tradition and moved away eight years ago. Another son, Marwan (Ashraf Barhom), a businessman, is welcomed by the family but is rejected by an angry former girlfriend, a French Red Cross worker (Julie-Anne Roth), who works in the village. Mona's character is mostly symbolic and she has little to say, yet the story of the film is written on her face and her lack of dimensionality is more than compensated for by the depth of the supporting characters, particularly Hattem and Amal.

As these conflicts bubble under the surface, the situation becomes increasingly absurd as the wedding is threatened by bureaucratic intransigence on the border checkpoints between Israel and Syria. Mona's passport has an Israeli stamp on it and, according to Syrian regulations, anyone carrying a passport with an Israeli stamp is denied entry to Syria. Neither Israeli nor Syrian customs officials seem to know what to do and the prospective bride and groom are stuck in a no-man's land, reduced to communicating via bullhorns pressed against locked gates. The Syrian Bride may sound like an exercise in absurdity bordering on farce, yet for the family who may never see their child again, it is a drama of high seriousness. Whether you consider The Syrian Bride to be an allegory, black comedy, family drama, or political statement, the image of a girl sitting alone in a white wedding dress stuck between impenetrable barriers is one that remains.


Re: Syrian Bride (2005) My review

Postby A » Tue Jan 24, 2006 1:20 am

Saw it also last year at the cinema with a friend. He was bored, I was mildly interested. The film is imo very mediocre, as it tries to raise political questions through a family drama with satirical undertones, but doesn't get serious. It raises some questions for the audience, but had imo nothing to tell for anybody slightly knowledgable of the conflict. If it weren't for the "importance" of the film I don't think much attention would be given to it. The direction is mediocre at best, the actors are solid, other technical departments didn't strike me as original in any way. It's true that the film has some startling images, but for me it worked more as an idea that deserved a better movie.
I recommend it if you're interested in the topic.

Re: Syrian Bride (2005) My review

Postby howardschumann(d) » Thu Feb 09, 2006 5:07 pm

I strongly disagree with your assessment. This was far from mediocre in my opinion. Actually it was one of my 12 favorite films from last year.

Re: Syrian Bride (2005) My review

Postby A » Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:11 pm

Well, for me the technical and artistic achievement lagged behind the important message.
It was just too much "entertainment" and too little "drama" for me. The director should have focused more on one of these aspects.
A similar film you might enjoy ,and which i found artistically more satisfying is "Rana's Wedding" by Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now). The lead actress Clara Khoury is the same as in "The Syrian Bride".

Re: Syrian Bride (2005) My review

Postby hengcs » Wed May 10, 2006 8:05 am

Director: Eran Riklis
Cast: Clara Khoury, Hiam Abbass

The official website (in English)

My thoughts ...

What is good ...

- The performance delivered by the two female protagonists (the sister and the bride) ... to some audience, the sister might even steal the limelight from the bride ...

hence, it makes me wonder if "The Syrian Bride" actually refers to ALL the "wives"/females in the film ...

e.g., the main protagonist (i.e., the bride)
e.g., her sister ... a typical "Syrian" bride (because they identified themselves with Syrians) ... who keeps her silence in the past ... but is now willing to break free ...
e.g., the brother's Russian wife ... the "Syrian" bride that could not be (because she has to be accepted as a "Syrian") ...
e.g., the defiant daughter ... the girl who was in love with someone her father was against ...
e.g., all the girls whom the brother has "flirted" with ... but will never be his "Syrian" bride ...

While some audience may find the stories of these women to be very real, some may criticize the script for trying to cramp all possibilities into one film and one family ... i am okay with it though ...

-- The second half of the film is rather engaging, with the audience wondering what will happen, and how the film will end ...

-- It tries to cover lots of issues ...
e.g., political
e.g., social and family
e.g., feminist

In essence, it deals with oppression and compromise at many levels ... at the individual level, social level and international level ...

What could be better ...

- In order to fully appreciate all the subtleties in the film (because a lot of things are not explained but inferred), an audience would have to possess some knowledge about the history/ or events/ or culture/ or feelings etc ... otherwise, the film would not be as impactful ... one would not feel as much as the characters ...

- The first half of the film could be more engaging ... it did have a lot of messages ... but they were not dramatic/compelling enough ... those who like "daily life" as it is might like the film better ... while those who prefer events/emotions might find the first half less coherent and not too fast pace ... the film is more "engaging" when the bride is stranded at the border ...

Recommended. An ambitious film with lots of subtle messages (some of which are lost if one does not know enough). Honestly, I do not profess to know many of them too ... * guilty * ... The second half of the film when the bride is stranded between the two borders is more compelling.

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