The Israel-Palestine conflict is reduced to a crystalline, though still complicated, essence in Nadav Schirman’s alternately tedious and engrossing documentary. There are only two talking heads, but they have a fascinating story to tell. The first subject is Mosab Hassan Yousef—the son of Hamas cofounder Sheikh Hassan Yousef—who spent a decade spying on his father’s organization for the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service (his code name: the Green Prince). The second subject is Gonen Ben Yitzhak, a Shin Bet agent who was Mosab’s handler during those ten years and eventually his proponent when the beleaguered spy sought political asylum in the United States.
Schirman takes an aesthetically simple approach, shooting his two interviewees in slickly lit close-ups and letting them talk directly to the camera, Errol Morris–style. Occasionally, he’ll cut to archive footage of a younger Mosab shepherding his father around or re-creations depicting the meet-ups between Yitzhak and the operative for whom he increasingly developed a paternal affection. But mostly it’s the two men speaking at us, and our interest ebbs and flows depending on which parts of the tale they’re telling.
It’s moving to see how the genuine emotion between the duo eventually trumped their rigid ideologies, though simultaneously sad to realize how choosing humanity over dogma effectively left them exiles—a small moral victory won in a war with no end in sight.