Incredibly moving but let down by incongruity
- The Idol review by TD
This film, based on the real life Palestinian pop singer Muhammad Assaf, begins by observing the lives of four extremely cute and equally streetwise kids in the townscapes of Gaza, as they attempt to make a living - however small - as musicians. As one might expect, given the history of Palestine, they overcome numerous obstacles in pursuit of their dreams, and the movie punctuates their story with disarmingly haunting Arab melodies.
The actor playing the young Muhammad is convincingly like his real-life counterpart, and appears to be singing for real. The older player, on the other hand, is radically different in features from his younger self. Given that the older character's singing seems to be dubbed (though I'm not a great judge of this), I think a closer resemblance could have been found. Nevertheless, there are interesting scenes from both stages of Muhammad's life, where his self-pity is challenged by his sight of disfigured people moving about the streets and even by free-runners exhilarating through the bombed reckage that sadly is much of Gaza.
I found that I wanted to watch this movie two or three times in quick succession, which for me is always a sign of a good one. Despite the unconvincing young / older character change, the film promotes great messages about the value of music in bringing people together, releasing their grief and overcoming adversity. Definitely worth a look.
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