Packing up your troubles and jetting off to pastures new has major drawbacks in this uneven comedy. Muna (Nisreen Faour) is a divorced, self-conscious Palestinian bank clerk who, alongside her moody teen son (Melkar Muallem), is given the official go-ahead to visit in-laws in Chicago. Debut director Cherien Dabis is far too blunt in addressing the angst of resettling: Muna’s son becomes the victim of racist bullying as if it was a rite of passage, while her misunderstanding of American customs too often comes across as idiocy. Yet the film is worth sticking with, as in the final act Dabis finds her feet by taking a few unexpected turns, overcoming her initial tonal uncertainty and allowing her actors room to manoeuvre. Faour charms as Muna, while there’s sturdy support from Hiam Abbass as her homesick sister and Alia Shawkat as her precocious niece. You’ll end up baffled that a film built on such shaky foundations can end up being so impossibly sweet.
Friday May 13 2011
Cast and crew
Melkar Muallem Hiam Abbass Alia Shawkat Nisreen Faour