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Homeland (A Movie Review)



Starring Max Rhyser, Yifat Sharabi, Penny Bittone, Shalin Agarwal, Radhika Vaz, Laurence Cantor, Ellie Diez, Pia Shah, Shayna Padovano, Anne-Marie Moloney, Bern Cohen, Ed Eldridge, Michael Eldridge, Tracie Jules, Ross Massood and Haythem Noor.

Screenplay by Brad Rothschild.

Directed by Michael Eldridge.

Distributed by New Films International.  93 minutes.  Not Rated.

The animosity between Israelis and Palestinians is so deep-seeded that it could never be adequately explored in an hour-and-a-half.

The indie drama Homeland does a nice job of trying.

If eventually it ends up slightly wallowing in melodrama, well that may have something to do with the vast complexity of the subject matter – and then adding the additional complication of a love relationship.

Essentially Homeland is a Romeo & Juliet story in which the Capulets are Palestinian and the Montagues are Israeli – and it is set in modern Brooklyn rather than Verona.

Neither side comes out looking totally at fault, nor do either come out taking all of the blame (though, on the whole, the Israelis probably come out looking a tiny bit better – mostly because there are fewer of them to misbehave).

Kobi (Max Rhyser) is an Israeli who decides to move to the United States after finishing his mandatory military stint.  He moves in with his older cousin, who has become sort of a Don Juan in his own mind and manages a Brooklyn ice cream parlor.  The cousin also gives Kobi a job cleaning up the shop and serving customers.

One day he meets eyes with a gorgeous customer named Leila.  They start to flirt and before you know it they are in love.  Then their backgrounds come up.

Leila is part of a first-generation Palestinian family.  Her mother and father are somewhat traditional, but they also embrace the American way of life.  However, her brother has been in and out of trouble for years, now he has become involved in a mosque which has cured his criminal tendencies, but made him slightly fanatical about his Muslim beliefs.

Kobi and Leila try to hide their relationship from those around them – but of course that never really works.

The movie actually is an interesting contradiction.  Sometimes it looks like a very expensive production with great production values, other times it looks extremely low budget.  For example, the ice cream parlor in which much of the action transpires is quite obviously a not-overly-realistic set, yet many of the other Brooklyn settings look and feel very real.  The direction and camera work is wonderfully fluid during conversations and dramatic confrontations, yet in the rare occasions that action like fights or even running occurs the film becomes jumpy and disjointed.

In the end, the story has been told before, but it is told here with enthusiasm and conviction.  You can’t exactly call Homeland a very good film, but it is a passionate one.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2010 All rights reserved. Posted: June 11, 2010.

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