Berkeley Media Group

100 min     7.1     2023     France


Even as bombs fall on Damascus, Mutaz refuses to flee to the uncertain life of a refugee. His wife, Hala, and daughter, Zeina, must make the choice whether to stay or leave.


CinemaSerf wrote:
Although it's a little bit of a slow burn, this, it's still a poignant and telling story of a family facing the consequences of the war in Syria. "Mutaz" (Samer al Masri) is a proud man - of himself, of his family, of his country - and is loathe to consider leaving even after their home has been given a few additional - and substantial - ventilation holes! Indeed, the stoicism with which he, wife "Hala" (Kinda Alloush) and teenage daughter "Zeina" (Hala Zein) adapt is astonishing. They do their best to keep life as normal as possible as they survive amongst the rubble watching almost everyone else move away to try and find safety. "Zeina" befriends the young "Amer" - a decent and friendly lad whose presence doesn't make things any easier for her easy going but still quite possessive father! The straw that finally brakes the camel's back comes when "Mutaz" concludes that their daughter might be better off - and considerably safer - were she to marry one of the local fighters. "Hala" is having none of this, packs quickly and takes her off in search of the (far distant) sea! Luckily "Amer" knows how to use a camera-equipped drone and catches up with them - as does a father/husband genuinely petrified for the future of his family... If you like, we are shown the middle of their story. We don't see the worst of the bombing scenario, nor do we know what happens at the end - we simply spend a few days in the company of a family whose very fabric is stretched and strained and yet whose sense of decency, of proportion, loyalty and love is never challenged. Their world has largely gone, but that doesn't mean their values have - and director Soudade Kaadan keeps us mindful of that as the story evolves via some lively and potent performances. There's a lovely scene with "Zeina" and her friend "pretend" fishing from the side of their home that is both sad and joyous at the same time - and that mixture of emotions that can be said to prevail through most of this. It's quite a striking tale of humanity that's really well worth an hour and a half of your time - especially if you have seen Ken Loach's recent "Old Oak"...