Under the Bombs (15)
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Time Out says
Tue Mar 18 2008The bombs in question fell from Israeli planes on to Lebanon over the summer of 2006, and it was during the aftermath of those attacks that French-Lebanese filmmaker Philippe Aractingi filmed this unusual drama under documentary conditions, sending his two actors on
to the streets both to interact with the grieving people and to impose a fictional story on locations as real as the blood that we see dripping from a cheap coffin in a mass grave. His actors, Nada Abou Farhat and Georges Khabbaz, play Zeina, a well-to-do, Lebanese woman from Dubai, and Tony, a plain-speaking cab driver from Beirut.
They are unlikely companions on a road trip that’s initiated by Zeina to search for her missing young son and sister. An initial frostiness between the two slowly thaws, offering a hint of
romance in this tense post-war arena.
‘Medium Cool’ meets Robert Capa meets ‘When Harry Met Sally’? Such comparisons are as awkward as some of the situations into which this well-intentioned film blithely walks. Although Aractingi’s intention is to blend the drama and the documentary, it’s actually far too easy to unpick fact from fiction as Zeina and Tony act as our guides to devastation and suffering. Aractingi shows sensitivity and urgency as a documentary filmmaker, but as a dramatist he’s chosen the wrong canvas or at least the wrong emphases within it. It’s impossible to care much for the pair’s fictional traumas – and blossoming affection – when they play out in tandem with such genuine tragedy. The film’s a curiosity of real power at some points, but it’s also deeply flawed.
Author: Dave Calhoun