Film Review: The Reports on Sarah and Saleem (2018); Director: Muayad Alayan.

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem

All Rights Reserved to the rightful owners. The Reports on Sarah and Saleem (2018) Press Still. World Cinema Amsterdam festival 2018.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ – 3/5.

Author: Feargal Agard | Runtime: 127 min. | Director: Muayad Alayan | Year: 2018.

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Such a tragic, but interesting drama film! The Reports on Sarah and Saleem | Al-Taqareer Hawl Sarah wa Saleem (2018) is a great example of how something so simple as an affair can politically grow out of proportion. Eventually, it becomes the mission to prove who is wrong and who is right but also to distinguish the bad from the good.

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem takes place in Israel (West-Jerusalem) and the state of Palestine (East-Jerusalem) and tells the story of an affair between the Palestinian man Saleem (Adeeb Safadi) and the Israeli woman Sarah (Sivane Kretchner). They are both married; Sarah with her husband David (Ishai Golan) with their daughter Flora and Saleem is married to Bisan (Maisa Abd Elhadi) who is pregnant of their unborn child. The affair of Sarah and Saleem goes unnoticed to their spouses while they use it as an outlet to blow off some steam until Sarah sneaks over the border that divides Jerusalem in Saleem’s car. They are publicly seen together while having a drink which is followed up by a bar fight. What ensues right after this is the triggering of lies, suspicion, and deceit that cause Saleem to become a target for the police and intelligence agencies on both the Israeli and Palestinian side. As they believe that Saleem -who naturally has no interests in politics- is smuggling drugs and prostitutes or is either a spy who misleads and recruits Israeli women married to security services agents to gain intel.

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem is directed by Muayad Alayan. The film is produced by Amal Alayan, Muayad Alayan, and Rami Musa Alayan and also written by Muayad Alayan and Rami Musa Alayan. The film is a Dutch, Palestine, German and Mexican production and it has been shown during the Tiger Competition at the Rotterdam Film Festival 2018 and the World Cinema Amsterdam festival 2018. Genre-wise it is a drama film that discusses how an extramarital affair could potentially go bad in a political way. The film is sometimes described as a psychological drama, but in my opinion, it should plainly be referred to as a drama film. Although that the experience for the actors or better said if actual persons would go through such a situation would definitely experience a psychological process. The psychological aspect of that isn’t that much conveyed to the spectators of this film. Thematically it all comes down to a story about honesty, telling the truth, what not to say to protect oneself and moral standards which function as tests for the main characters. The film also stars Hanan Al Hillo, Mohammad Eid, Rebecca Telhami, Kamel El Basha, Jan Kühne, Raya Zoabi, Ronnie Barkan, Samia Hussein, Arwa Alkhamour, Mahmoud Halaika, Abeer Salman, George Khleifi, Riyad Sliman, Amer Khalil, Laila Al Azza.

The narrative is well-constructed and definitely a very realistic take on the political tensions that surround Jerusalem. It shows how society can work against each other in creating a form of normalized relations between Palestinians and Israelis. It also shows how contrasting treatments can be as the Palestinian Saleem who has no government connections is immediately treated as a terrorist or traitor by both Israeli and Palestinian security agencies, while Sarah is treated more respectfully especially since her husband serves as an agent for the Israeli security services. Besides the clear-cut and strong narrative, I felt that the actors authentically display the emotions of the characters. You might not immediately feel compelled to self-identify or deeply emotionally connect with the main characters, but the effects of the acting performances are still moving enough. Specifically when you see how normal citizens can be such grown-ups in solving a matter while some members of the conservative world around them blow things up into a very black-and-white case of traitorism and heroism. The Reports on Sarah and Saleem is just a beautiful nuanced example of how there are innocent and guilty people out there on both sides.

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem is a beautiful film to watch. Cinematographically it’s comprised of beautiful shots, but also interesting perspectives of life in Jerusalem. Narrative-wise it can be experienced as slow-paced, which means that some spectators might need some patience. Especially since there is almost to no music or soundtrack in the film. It creates a monotonous feel of tension throughout the film because there isn’t any music or sounds that help the tension spike up at critical moments. Then again the silence and the ambiance of natural sounds bring up a realistic feel, which might have been what the director was aiming for.

I gave The Reports on Sarah and Saleem a star rating of: ⭐⭐⭐ – 3/5, because I believe that this film is potentially strong and able to reach a lot of people who are interested in the film’s touching plot. It is such a bearer of insight into the lives of normal law-abiding citizens who live and have to survive in a world that is filled with a huge amount of political tension. It’s definitely a recommendation, but maybe not for spectators that have high expectations. It’s about the realism of this story and the quaintness amid of the bigger political picture.

Released as from the 28th of January 2018.

Genre: Drama | Languages: Hebrew, English, Arabic | Distributor: none yet. Seen at World Cinema Amsterdam festival 2018.

In regard to all pictures and trailer footage. All Rights Reserved to the rightful owners. Passage of Life Press Still 2. World Cinema Amsterdam festival 2018.

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