‘Let It Be Morning’ Review: After the Wedding, the Siege

A Palestinian citizen of Israel returns to his hometown and encounters problems in this film from Eran Kolirin.

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By Ben Kenigsberg

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Opening titles situate “Let It Be Morning” “in a place not far from here a short while before peace breaks out.” The outlook for that tongue-in-cheek prediction only seems bleaker after the movie, set in an Arab village in Israel at the doorstep of — but not in — the West Bank.

Sami (Alex Bakri), a Palestinian citizen of Israel, has returned to the village, his hometown, for his brother’s wedding. The evening is an annoyance for Sami, who works in software development in Jerusalem and looks down on family and friends who have stayed. But when he and his wife (Juna Suleiman) and son (Maruan Hamdan) try to leave that night, they encounter a blockade. The Israeli military has cut off the village, for reasons that officials never clarify.

Adapting a Hebrew-language novel by the Palestinian author Sayed Kashua, the screenwriter-director Eran Kolirin uses the escalating absurdity and anger to illuminate social divisions. With the cellphone signal down in the village, Sami tries to make pals with an Israeli soldier whose brother he turns out to have known in school. Some villagers think they can end the siege by handing over workers who have come from the West Bank — a move Sami’s father sees as a betrayal. A cabdriver (Ehab Elias Salami) wants to organize a protest, but in Sami’s words, the locals can’t even pull together two people for backgammon.

Despite flashes of droll humor, the film builds up an undercurrent of suspense, with the prospect of violence always near. Kolirin (the movie version of “The Band’s Visit”) orchestrates the proceedings with confidence and significant subtlety, never letting political diagnoses overwhelm character.

Let It Be Morning
Not rated. In Arabic and Hebrew, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. In theaters.

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