Divine Intervention

on May 19, 2002 by Susan Green
Elia Suleiman's exquisite anguish is evident in “Divine Intervention,” a 2002 Cannes award-winner that is subtitled “a chronicle of love and pain.” The Palestinian writer/director surveys the daily frustrations of a Nazareth neighborhood. A fantasy sequence pits a masked ninja against Israeli soldiers engaged in target practice. The sharpest observations come with two people from different towns (Suleiman as “E.S.” and Manal Khader) forbidden to cross a checkpoint due to heightened political tensions. An adjacent lot is the deadpan couple's only meeting place. Holding hands, they watch the arbitrary humiliations inflicted on Arabs stopping at the makeshift border.

E.S., whose father (Nayef Fahoum Daher) is dying, conducts psychological warfare by floating a balloon emblazoned with Yassir Arafat's image. More poignantly, he stares down a Jewish settler while blasting an old rock song with a new Middle Eastern backbeat: “I put a spell on you, because you're mine…” It underscores the misery of adversarial cultures that do indeed own each other. Starring Elia Suleiman, Manal Khadar and Nayef Fahoum Daher. Directed and written by Elia Suleiman. Produced by Humbert Balsan. No distributor set. Drama. Arabic-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 93 min.

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