Saturday, June 21, 2008


A nice little movie. Great performances all around. Richard Jenkins is perfect in the lead as the seemingly typical WASP college professor, whose middle age sadness, and/or depression, caused by the loss of his wife make him a not uncommon figure in literature but pretty uncommon for the lead in a film.

The epiphany he experiences, brought about by an unexpected collision with the most obvious non-WASPS a writer might come up with—illegal aliens—only in this case not typical, A young woman from Senegal (played by Danai Jekesi Guirra), and two Syrians (Palestinian Syrians if I remember correctly), a mother (played by Hiam Abbass) and son (Haaz Sleiman).

Some scenes seem a little too contrived, or typically independent-movie quirky, but most don’t, most seem as real as any life. The resolution of the film left me disappointed, but was still remarkably untypical if not totally unexpected.

The thing that struck me the most about the movie’s originality were the two women leads—Guirra and Abbass—women I can’t imagine a Hollywood movie ever casting as leads, or even in supporting roles, and yet so delightful and moving to not only watch act, but to just gaze on their uniquely individual beauty.

I’d gladly see it again just for that. But the male leads and all the actors, as well as the story, make it worth seeing more than once as well.

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