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Director Kolirin’s Subtle Commentary on Middle Eastern Borders

Director Kolirin’s Subtle Commentary on Middle Eastern Borders

NR | 1h 41min | Drama, Comedy | 3 February 2023 (Israel)

Not quite as good as his similarly themed “The Band’s Visit” from 2007, director Eran Kolirin’s “Let It Be Morning” (“LIBM”) offers a subtler take on the multimillennia-old Arab-Israeli conflict.

Set in a remote, unspecified West Bank Israeli town that has seen better days, “LIBM” is presented from the perspective of Sami (Alex Bakri, a taller, Mediterranean version of Ryan Gosling), a favorite son who left years ago and found success as a technologies executive in Jerusalem. Everyone in the village loves Sami or, at least, what they believe he’s achieved.

When Doves Don’t Fly

Sami has returned home with his wife, Mira (a spectacular Juna Suleiman), and child in tow to attend the wedding of his younger brother Aziz. 

(L–R) Salim Daw, Izabel Ramadan, Yara Elham Jarrar, Marwan Hamdan, Juna Suleiman, and Alex Bakri in “Let It Be Morning.” (Cohen Media Group) 

In the film’s first passage of bone-dry humor, a box of doves is released with everyone (especially the bride and groom) expecting them to fly away during a fireworks display. The birds instead meander out of the cage and begin mingling with the guests, with no intention of taking flight.

This is the exact opposite mindset of Sami, who can’t wait to leave. He barely interacts with his family and old friends, instead spending the bulk of the time texting to whom we later find out is his mistress back in Jerusalem.

After some quickie goodbyes, Sami and Mira hit the road and quickly reach a blockade set up by heavily armed Israeli soldiers. No one can leave, no one can enter, no reasons are offered as to why and, in short order, there will be no phone reception.

Up Goes the Wall

Upon returning the next day, Sami and some others visit the blockade and notice giant, stories-high cement pillars being erected to form a wall. They are told that there are “daffawis” living and working in the village and that they must be turned over to the authorities.

Although “daffawis” is never clearly defined, Mira informs her son that it is a derogatory slur targeted toward Palestinians and to not use it. The big surprise: Sami, Mira, and everyone they know are also Palestinians living legally in Israel. The “daffawis” are there illegally. And there’s the rub.

Nobody wants to rat the “daffawis” out, but after the army cuts off electricity the following day, tensions rise, patience begins to thin, and panic buying leaves grocery store shelves empty.

Old Friends Reconnect

With not much to do, Sami starts hanging out with his childhood friend Abed (Ehab Salami), a nebbish sort whose wife has left him for reasons better left unrevealed here. Abed is under the impression that buying and operating a taxi will win her back, but the only thing it accomplishes is that he gets leaned on heavily by Ashraf (Nadib Spadi), the local loan shark and town bully. The only reason Abed isn’t dead already is his close proximity to Sami.

Sami (Alex Bakri) and his wife, Mira (Juna Suleiman), in “Let It Be Morning.” (Cohen Media Group)

As the narrative inches toward its somewhat surprising conclusion, we notice that Sami’s impenetrable veneer starts to strip away. He (separately) engages his mom and dad in the type of conversations that most parents never have with their adult children. He explains things to Mira, things she already knew, and all but orders Abed to stop worshiping him because he’s not worthy of the praise.

Kolirin’s screenplay, adapted from the novel of the same name by Sayed Kashua (himself an Israeli-born Palestinian), neither spells everything out nor brings politics and religion into the mix, which in itself is a major accomplishment, considering the potential powder keg scenario put forth.

Kolirin’s choice to end the narrative abruptly and without a clear resolution was smart, as these conflicts have no easy answers.

It’s What You Value

It’s a safe bet that viewers will take their own politics and morality into consideration when determining whether they “like” the movie or not, as the parallels to what is depicted here isn’t all that far removed from what’s been going on at the U.S. southern border for decades.

There are many gray areas going into “LIBM” and even more on the way out, which will be good for some, but certainly not for all audiences. Telling people what to think, how to think, or worse, telling them what they think is wrong is not the job of responsible filmmakers.

One fact that few rational people will argue with: No country is secure without borders and restricted; legal immigration rules almost every country on the planet, except the United States, whose rules it does not seem to understand, embrace, and enforce.

Presented in subtitled Arabic and Hebrew.

Epoch Times Photo “Let It Be Morning” is director Eran Kolirin’s subtle commentary on Middle Eastern borders. (Cohen Media Group)

‘Let It Be Morning’
Director: Eran Kolirin
Stars: Alex Bakri, Juna Suleiman, Ehab Salami, Khalifa Natour
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
MPAA Rating: NR
Release Date: Feb. 3, 2023
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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