Humour, according to Arab-Israeli writer/ director Elia Suleiman, “is a form of resistance”.
And where other Palestinian filmmakers have given vent to anger, grief or indignation over the travails of their people, Suleiman relies on a wry, deadpan gaze that recalls his mentor, Jacques Tati.
The third in a loose trilogy of films (after Chronicle Of A Disappearance and Divine Intervention), this semi-autobiographical offering has slightly more of a storyline than its predecessors: we follow the life of Suleiman’s own father, Fuad (played by Saleh Bakri), and then young Elia (Ayman Espanioli) himself, from the 1948 declaration of the State Of Israel on.
This framework leaves ample room for Suleiman’s approach: a series of detached, tragicomic vignettes illustrating the absurdities, frustrations, minor triumphs and downright idiocies of life in Israel’s beleaguered Palestinian enclaves.
Suleiman never hectors or preaches; he just invites us, with a fatalistic shrug, to see for ourselves.