Rana's WeddingThough Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad went on to direct the Oscar-nominated political thriller Paradise Now only three years later, Rana’s Wedding (or Another Day in Jerusalem) lacks much of the drive and punch of the later film. Following a young Palestinian woman (Clara Khoury in a broodingly intense role that nabbed her a Best Actress win at the Marrakech Film Festival and led to her eventual casting in the upcoming Ridley Scott thriller Body of Lies) as she attempts to navigate the perils of love and an occupied territory, this documentary-toned drama may wander a little too slowly for some viewers.

Beginning with a timestamp that reads “Jerusalem, tuesday 27 November 5.56 am” we see our heroinne reading a note from her father demanding that she choose a husband from the list of suitors he has compiled or fly to Egypt with him at four that afternoon. Ultimatum time. The driving force of the movie, though, is that Rana isn’t a girl who gets told what to do. She immediately packs up a bag and sets out to find her questionably loyal boyfriend Kahlil, a theatre director, and get their wedding underway… before she’s forced to leave.

Meandering through the city – and giving the audience a chance to see lines of soliders with high-powered weapons, a barking dog, some suffering family members, and an awful lot of sand – Rana continuously pouts, glares, and calls Kahlil’s cellphone and anyone else who might know his whereabouts. But finding Kahlil is only a small part of the battle. The couple then has to make their way through various checkpoints and roadblocks, convince a Registrar to get her father’s permission, get the proper paperwork, and then find a space for the wedding.

It’s impressive that the film was shot on location in East Jerusalem, and the land- and cityscapes are something to appreciate, considering the views we are typically afforded through the news. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to save this sometimes-melodramatic/sometimes-comedic film from feeling a little pretentious and slow (even if it only runs 86 minutes in length). Rana’s wedding may be difficult to prepare, but who’s ever successfully prepared a wedding in 10 hours? Abu-Assad has said, “When the abnormalities of barriers and occupation become an everyday reality, normal things like love and marriage turn into fiction. This is life in Palestine right now. I wanted to challenge it through cinema.”

He’s made a go of it, but the lack of affection between his protagonist couple seeps some of that romantic fiction away.

Zach’s Rating: C+
Perfect For: An overview of Palestinian daily life
Stay Away if: You’re looking for an exciting night at the movies

To purchase Rana’s Wedding, visit Arab Film Distribution or Amazon
To view more reviews by Zach Freeman, check out HubPages

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