Magazine article Variety

The Journey

Magazine article Variety

The Journey

Article excerpt

A WINDOW ON ASIAN CINEMA

The Journey

Director: Mohamed Al-Daradji

Starring: Zahraa Gandour, Ameer Ali Jabarah, Huda And Al Ameer, Hayder And Al Ameer, Ali Al Khassaf, Iamen Laeibi Mahdi, Haneen Raad Qasim, Zainab Ali Alshawi, Zahraa Emad Abdul Hussen, Kazemih Hindi Imran, Ahmed Lafta Atia Daradji, Zion Forrest Lee

Several dramas in recent years have attempted to fathom the mindset of a suicide bomber. Iraqi-Dutch director Mohamed Al-Daradji comes up with a different, emotionally accessible approach in "The Journey" by surrounding his fictive terrorist's mission within a panoply of train-station humanity, a gambit that at times is strongly reminiscent of vintage neorealist slices of life. Expertly juggling suspense and various narrative strands, never quite succumbing to the sentimentality it sometimes flirts with, this compact microcosmic tale should win over audiences on the festival circuit, and quite possibly beyond.

A young woman who says she's called Sara (Zahraa Gandour) removes her headscarf before entering Baghdad Central Station in late 2006, when the facility is about to re-open after years of devastation. The place is crawling with military, police and other security. Grim-faced, she does her best to blend into the crowd while examining those unlucky travelers, peddlers and others who are unknowingly about to become part of the deadly plan she's been persuaded to execute: "Purifying this place from the Americans" via the explosives wrapped around her midsection, which to inquisitive eyes make her look a few months' pregnant.

The mini-dramas she spies in this quiet before the anticipated storm include the pushy salesmanship of a flower-selling tot (Huda And Al Ameer), who berates her passive, stammering shoe-shine brother (Hayder And Al Ameer). The leader of a group of strolling musicians (Ali Al Khassaf) is confronted by his erstwhile betrothed (Iamen Laeibi Mahdi), who harangues him for making her wait 22 years - even though he spent all that time in a POW camp. A teenage bride (Zahraa Emad Abdul Hussen) ponders escape from her scolding mother (Kazemih Hindi Imran) and the imminent wedding she's clearly being forced into. A distraught-looking woman (Haneen Raad Qasim) hovers around with a large duffel, looking more suspicious than Sara herself.

Sara's coolly judgmental observation of these scenes is intruded upon in most unwelcome fashion: Salam (Ameer Ali Jabarah), a hirsute hustler already heard barking on his cellphone and harassing passers-by, takes notice of her sitting alone. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.