The title of this film is also the title of a fictional popular television soap opera, set in 1967, that both Israelis and Arabs enjoy watching in this amusing, light-hearted comedy directed by Sameh Zoabi, who wrote it with Dan Kleinman. Any movie that attempts to bridge the Israeli-Palestinian gap with humor is most welcome.
The set-up focuses on the decent but ineffectual young man, Salam, sympathetically played by Kais Nashif, who is given a job by his uncle, Bassam (Nadim Sawalha), who produces the show. What can Salam contribute? Since he speaks Hebrew, he can be useful in going over scripts to be sure here are no errors and aiding actors in their pronunciations.
There’s a hitch. Salam, who lives in Jerusalem, must commute to Ramallah, where the film is being shot. Each day he must pass Israeli security on the way, and he needs approval from an Israeli officer, Assi, played by Yaniv Biton, who, with a little help from Salam, comes to believe that Salam is actually an important writer on the show.
The comedy intensifies as Assi wants to impress his wife, who, like women on both sides of the divide who have become fans of the program, is partial to wanting the outcome of the show to be personally pleasing. Thus the officer wants to use his power over the coming and going of Salam to in effect become a co-script writer and influence the ending. The soap’s financial backers have their own ideas.
Salam has his own romantic goal. He is in love with a young woman, Mariam, played by Maisa Abd Elhadi, and he wants to impress her and advance their failed relationship.
What’s fascinating about the rather crazy plot is the concept that both Israeli and Arab women are caught up as fans of the same corny TV series, which in itself involves espionage and seduction in the Israeli-Palestinian hostilities.
The screenplay makes the relationships involved frequently funny even though basically outlandish, and the cast gets nicely into the comedic and romantic spirit of it all while the film makes its inherent point about potential coexistence. A Cohen Media Group release. Reviewed August 2, 2019.