West Beirut review

Beirut, 1975: Civil war has broken out in Lebanon. Tarek (Doueiri), Omar (Chamas) and May (Al Amin) are three young friends whose lives will be changed by the conflict. Their school has been closed down, and the capital is split into the Muslim West and Christian East. But, although bombs are falling every night, the teens are determined to keep exploring the city and to continue developing their own Super 8 films.

Drawing on his own childhood experiences in which "the happy memories have cancelled out the bad ones", writer-director Ziad Doueiri (Tarantino's camera operator) has made an accomplished coming-of-age drama that's earned rightful comparisons to John Boorman's Hope And Glory.

The focus here is very much on how the youthful protagonists maintain their curiosity, rather than on the historical events of the war itself. There's little in the way of plot, rather a succession of engaging scenes, but Tarek et al prove highly sympathetic characters.

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