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The Law in These Parts

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Jonathan Livny, one of the talking heads of The Law in These Parts
Jonathan Livny, one of the talking heads of The Law in These Parts

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Justice is blind—but there are cases where fingers start weighing down the scales. That’s the j’accuse that Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’s documentary puts forth regarding Israel’s rule of law in its post-’67 occupied territories. A graduate of the Marcel Ophüls Give-’Em-Enough-Rope School of Jujitsu Journalism, Alexandrowicz (The Inner Tour) invites a number of retired Israeli military judges and legal experts to sit for interviews that double as turned-table interrogations. These are the men who helped establish a parallel set of statutes for Palestinian citizens, “temporary” laws that would allow for land to be seized and colonized, and for an Arabic suspect to be told that he must defend himself against crimes which are classified. (Paging Josef K.!) According to the filmmaker, it’s high time they explained themselves.

That these gents must do so while footage of West Bank injustices plays behind them lets you know exactly where Alexandrowicz’s sympathies fall before a single response has been issued, and that he’s not afraid to utilize a visual medium to make his points. (Even more damning: a rewound highlight-reel of military incidents that counters an assertion of unwarranted attacks. Ouch.) Yet the numerous scenes of these men spewing hot-seat double-talk start to bleed together in a way that eventually dilutes the movie’s overall impact. And while Alexandrowicz’s voiceovers underline how he’s forcing these men to taste their own medicine—“In the world of the film, I rule on what reality is”—what’s meant to be a critique of subjectivity in power comes off as narcissistic hoo-ha. You’ve already held these folks accountable. There’s no need to be a sniggering schoolboy about it, too.

Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfear

Written by David Fear
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