Friday, September 03, 2010

Venice Film Festival 2010: A Review of "Miral"

Directed by Julian Schnabel
Starring: Freida Pinto, Hiam Abbass, Alexander Siddig, Yasmine Elmasri
Grade: C -

Although the film is titled "Miral", after the Palestinian revolutionary, it's over an hour before Miral herself -- a plucky Freida Pinto -- makes an appearance. Much of the film's first half is made up of flimsy exposition (some of which isn't even relevant), and the story becomes somewhat of a burdened timeline representation of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"Miral" doesn't work as an overview because it is so uniformally-written, with a definitive solemnity about the middle-eastern battle and its talking points over the past sixty years. This would be much easier to take were Julian Schnabel able to connect his characters to their surroundings and create a tight enough bond between the four principal women that he highlights. Instead, "Miral" suffers from a lack of focus, historically-aware but hesitant about whether to centre itself around Miral or her mentor Hind Husseini. In terms of time, the span between them is rather great, and resultantly the plot becomes far too strained and indeterminate. Key shifts in Miral's political and emotional attitudes are bypassed to accommodate a progressive trawl through the history books.

Schnabel's unorthodox method of filmmaking aids in richening the appeal of "Miral", well-shot for the most part and even occasionally moving. Nevertheless, the script's early misgivings lead to a disjointed and uneven feel; there may be a lot to say about this subject, but "Miral" isn't the film to say it.

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