Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Movie Review: The Syrian Bride

The Syrian Bride follows the wedding day of Druze bride, Mona, to her cousin, Tallel, who is a famous Syrian comedic actor. Mona's family lives in the much disputed and occupied Golan Heights of Israel and viewers soon discover that once she crosses the border into Syria to marry her cousin, she can never return to Israel and will likely never see her family again (in reality, Druze from Golan may not return to Israel cross that particular border, but they can travel to other locations in Israel via air travel, and Syrians are allowed into Israel in the same way). The historical political conflict regarding the Golan Heights is not well addressed in the film, and what is addressed is overwhelmingly anti-Israel. Engaging in a little research into Israel's taking of the Golan, will better dispose you, as viewer, to understand why the Golan is so important to both Syria and Israel.

Throughout her preparations for the day, she is not the joyful bride one would hope to see, but a heavyhearted woman, who does not appear to revel in her up-coming nuptials. As the hour for the wedding approaches, Mona's family drives to the border to meet her new in-laws and groom for the first time. Israeli officials, Red Cross Volunteers, and Syrian guards engage in confusing and seemingly ridiculous back and forth communication across the border in an attempt to make sure the paper work and documentation for the border exchange meets all respective protocol. Meanwhile, the melancholy bride waits.

Along with the main storyline of Mona and Tallel's wedding, there are several side stories revolving around many in Mona's family. Mona's sister has suffered and struggled in her marriage in the patriarchal Druze community. Her pro-Syrian activist father has only recently been released from prison due to his political activities. Her black market smuggling younger brother is ever on his cell phone, attempting to avoid trouble of one kind or another, and her older brother returns to Golan for the first time since marrying a Russian woman, much to the dismay of the family and the entire Druze community. Doesn't drama abound like this in every family?

The acting is well done, and the film is enjoyable and interesting, even if a bit heavy handed. Being a foreign language film, you will be required to read subtitles in order to follow the story, but it was well worth the effort. Having only one scene in which adult themes are touched upon, I would recommend this film for high school students and adults.

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