Orphaned girl Miral (Pinto) grows up in Israel-occupied Palestine. When she witnesses her village bulldozed she becomes politicised.
There is much to admire in this adaptation of Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal’s novel, directed with passion by artist Julian Schnabel, whose Zionist upbringing suggests a complex relationship with the material. Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto bears an uncanny resemblance to Jebreal, on whose life events are loosely based, yet her beautiful face is hardly expressive. Thus, it’s largely left to Schnabel to humanise his ramshackle story, which spans over 50 years, from the foundation of the state of Israel to the failure of the ’93 Oslo talks, using real footage and inter-titles to contextualise its action. Yet, the latter is in short supply, so the film (well-intentioned and at times engaging) never reaches the emotional depths of Schnabel’s earlier work.
Schnabel doesn't comes close to the quiet power of his last feature, The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, delivering a story that can't match the scope or scale of Rula Jebreal’s source material.
Reviewed by David Hughes