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Gaza Mon Amour Movie Review


Gaza Mon Amour Movie Review

Gaza Mon Amour

Samuel Goldwyn Films

Reviewed for by Abe Friedtanzer

Director: Tarzan Nasser and Arab Nasser

Writer: Tarzan Nasser and Arab Nasser

Cast: Salim Dau, Hiam Abbass, Maisa Abd Elhadi, George Iskandar

Screened at: Critics’ link, IL, 11/10/21

Opens: November 5th, 2021

It’s often said that it’s never too late to fall in love, but the act of courtship and whatever comes next likely looks very different at various stages of life. Societal pressure to get married and have a family is rampant in so many cultures, and in many religious communities, matchmaking still occurs and brides and grooms may have little say in the lifelong relationships they are expected to enter. When more time has passed and family and friends are no longer obsessed with pairing people of a certain age up, interest may be lost and effort may stop, which can be just what individuals need to truly find happiness.

Issa (Salim Dau) is an unmarried sixty-year-old fisherman in Gaza. His sister Manal (Manal Awad) brings multiple women who are happy to marry him, but he has his sights set on someone else: Siham (Hiam Abbass), who works at the market. Siham, whose free-spirited, divorced daughter Leila (Maisa Abd Elhadi) gives her mother a hard time, has no clue that Issa has feelings for her. When Issa finds an ancient phallic statue of Apollo in the water, he tells no one and puts it in a closet, unsure of what role it may later play in his life.

This film’s title is interesting because it references the place in which Issa and Siham live, which isn’t exactly central to their romance. A voice on the radio is heard frequently describing the instability of the region and how no governing body wishes to take responsibility for ensuring its prosperity, and multiple references are made to how Israeli authorities have cut the power or done something else objectionable. The setting does matter because it is integral to the identity of both protagonists, and perhaps it is that an unlikely late-stage love like theirs could only blossom in a place like Gaza.

There is a great degree of formality to be found from both Issa and Siham that has to do with their culture and also the generation to which they belong. Siham in particular doesn’t appreciate the influence of her daughter, who clashes with many of the values she holds dear and seeks to present to her peers, and even questions Issa’s request for him to hem his pants, something she does not usually do because she only works on women’s clothing. Issa, though he flouts some traditional behaviors, balks at his sister’s suggestion that she go ahead and propose to Siham for him since that is simply not the ways things are done.

The introduction of the Apollo statue feels at first like a random and puzzling occurrence, but it’s one that makes more sense in the context of a place with deep biblical roots where history is very much of a part of modernity, especially as it is newly discovered. Issa does not know what to make of it, and when authorities come calling after he shows a piece of it to a shop owner, he is suddenly held accountable for a criminal offense. He also realizes the role of money and greed in his arrest, since the statue is surely valuable and can be used to secure significant funding for an area that could very much use it.

Dau and Abbass are both actors who have worked extensively across film and television in projects in multiple languages, including Oslo, Fauda, Ramy, and Succession. These roles feel personal and lived-in, and there is a gravitas that they both display that makes Issa and Siham feel respectable and distinguished. Though its pacing is far from lively and its statue subplot is a bit peculiar, the overall arc of Gaza Mon Amour is endearing thanks to the strong performances from its stars and its sweet ending.

87 minutes


Story – B

Acting – B+

Technical – B

Overall – B+

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