Country: Israel / other
Movie Review: In Eran Riklis’ new drama, “A Borrowed Identity”, the unruly Israeli-Arab coexistence remains as a topic, but this time slightly different since the story focuses on a Palestinian-Israeli boy who tries to impose himself against discrimination. The script was co-written by Mr. Riklis, who delighted me in the past with titles like “The Syrian Bride” and “Lemon Tree”, and Sayed Kashua, the author of the novel on which the movie was based upon. The story starts in 1982 in Tira, Israel, where the young Eyad, a very intelligent and perspicacious kid, proceeds to another climbing of the street utility post that holds a TV antenna on its top. His father, Salah (the very known Ali Suliman), who’s equally very smart but was relegated to be a fruit picker when he decided to involve himself in politics, tries impatiently to tune the Arab channel on his old TV. He’s a revolted man who’s not afraid to demonstrate and express his convictions, often called terrorist by the Israeli locals, and whose dream is to send his son to the best college in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Eyad, now totally recovered after falling from the utility post, feels abashed at school when he has to refer his father’s profession - in his juvenile innocence, he rather insists that Salah is a terrorist, a statement that conducts to a strict punishment inflicted by the school’s principal. The story then shifts to 1988, time when the grown-up Eyad (Tawfeek Barhom) is accepted at the college. Once there, besides being a victim of stupid provocations and having accent problems in speaking Hebrew, he falls in love with the beautiful Naomi (Daniel Kitsis) and finds real friendship when he joins a college’s volunteer program and meets Yonatan (Michael Moshonov), a youngster suffering from muscular dystrophy. As the years pass by, Eyad faces some challenges such as how to live the ‘prohibited love’ with Naomi and how to cope with the deterioration of his best friend’s health condition. Related to this particular last topic, he finds the right solution to the injustice he was being subjected and steals his friend’s identity in a desperate attempt to have the same perks given to the Israelis. Both fanaticism and generosity are detected on the Israeli and Arab sides, and the director never assumes extreme postures. Mr. Riklis’ unnerving filmmaking style didn't smother the several critical points that are brought up about the conflict, turning the film into a bittersweet experience that leads to a variety of distinct feelings and sensations like sadness, loss, compassion, and liberation.