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Thursday, March 9, 2006


Posted on Thu, Mar 9, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Studio: Typecast Releasing
Release Date: 2006-03-09
Cast: Mohammad Bakri, Areen Omari
Director: Saverio Costanzo
Music Score: Alter Ego
WorkNameSort: Private
Our Rating: 2.50

The cause of bringing the Palestinian struggle to Orlando moviegoers gets a little closer to completion with Private, showing not at some out-of-the way, second-run hellhole but at downtown's DMAC, where somebody might actually see it. Hopefully, "see" isn't an unfortunate choice of words, since the screener copy we received was grainy in the extreme, the night scenes bordering on pixilation. The theater's copy is said to be far more presentable, but caveat emptor.

Anyway, the movie is more noteworthy for the intimate suspense it brings to the subject of Israeli occupation than for any dramatic conclusion it chooses to reach. The heroes are a Palestinian family of seven who find their daily lives plunged into terror when an Israeli military unit commandeers the upper floor of their house. They're reduced to living out of sleeping bags in their cramped front room, locked in at night and forbidden to come and go on their own without risking an armed upbraiding (read: Getting shot is a concrete possibility). It's up to papa Mohammad (Mohammed Bakri) to keep everybody calm – relatively speaking – and prove that resistance depends on sober perseverance, not doing something impetuous and/or crazy.

This pressure-cooker encapsulation of Middle Eastern conflict has a natural metaphoric soundness, and the nail-biting ante is upped when the kids in the house begin to respond to their incarceration like, well, kids. One of the daughters adopts the dangerous habit of hiding in a closet to spy on their captors, which enables her to understand them as people but intensifies the risk to her (and her family's) well-being. You strive to discern if director Saverio Costanzo is headed toward treacly reconciliation (not likely) or all-out calamity (logical but too awful to contemplate). Instead, he plays the world-weariness card, ultimately positing that individual situations like these are as irresolvable as the larger troubles they represent. Not for the first time, the ending with the greatest resemblance to real-world circumstances is the least satisfying capper to a movie.


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