A cross-conflict road movie set during the 1982 Lebanese war, Zaytoun gets plenty right. For one, it looks fantastic, with cinematographer Dan Laustsen lensing war-blasted cities and malignly mine-strewn countryside in ever arresting ways. Also earning kudos are the strong central performances: Stephen Dorff overcomes minor miscasting and an awkward accent to deliver a nuanced turn as downed Israeli pilot Yoni, while Abdallah El Akal out-thesps his older co-star as Palestinian orphan Fahed, assuredly segueing from childish bravado into confusion and sadness. Director Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree, The Syrian Bride) too earns commendation for tactfully handling Palestinian/Israeli tensions without pointing fingers or resorting to easy villains.
But while there’s no doubting Zaytoun’s good intentions, the
parts don’t hang together as a believable whole with characters
becoming conduits for unsubtle and corny moralising. Understanding thy
enemy and dissolving hatred via extensions of kindness are solid
lessons, but require a more convincing film than this to make them truly
Out 8th April