Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Time that Remains

The Time that Remains seems to start out as a biography of director Elia Suleiman's father Fuad and then morphs gradually into an autobiography of Elia himself. It also serves as a chronicle of life in Israel for Palestinians, and (appropriately) kicks off in 1948. The Israeli army is advancing on Nazareth and many citizens are preparing to leave while Fuad fights with the local resistance and narrowly avoids execution.

We fast forward to the 1960's when Fuad is married to Nadia and Elia is growing up. Aunt Olga still lives in the family home and Fuad and Nadia live close by. Their interactions with the neighbours illustrate the close-knit nature of the community. Daily life is illustrated by recurring vignettes. We see life in Nazareth gradually becoming more suffocating and we see Elia become an adult. His father dies and, much later, his Mother's death concludes the film.

This film isn't an easy watch. It moves quite slowly and there's a lot of repetition. There are long stretches (especially towards the end) where there is very little dialogue. There are some bits that will stay with me for a long time, particularly a sixty ton Israeli tank parked outside a home and the gun barrel tracking the occupant as he paces back and forth across the road talking on his cellphone, seemingly oblivious. Almost as poignant was the armoured car outside the nightclub in Ramallah being steadfastly ignored by the dancers.

As is often the case after watching films involving Israel, I came away shaking my head.

Anne's rating 3/5 Ian's rating 3/5

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