Feature

Miral

Julian Schnabel reflects on a half century of Israeli-Palestinian strife through the stories of four Palestinian women.

Directed by Julian Schnabel
(PG-13)

*

“On the face of it,” Julian Schnabel’s decision to train his camera on a half century of Israeli-Palestinian strife might seem a “bold undertaking,” said Sheri Linden in the Los Angeles Times. But while the intentions of the Jewish-American artist turned director were good, this adaptation of an autobiographical novel by his Palestinian journalist girlfriend plays like melodrama. It’s burdened by both “stilted expository dialogue” and a self-consciously lush visual style. Across five decades, the film “seeks to reflect the entwined destinies” of Israel and Palestine through the stories of four Palestinian women, said Nick Pinkerton in The Village Voice. Schnabel is “countless fathoms out of his depth,” though. Even when Freida Pinto finally makes her first appearance as the title character, no strong narrative emerges. The star is just a radiant “poster girl” for Palestinians’ right to self-governance. It would be disappointing enough if Schnabel had simply reduced a “grand, complex human drama” to platitudes, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. At times, this film’s “compulsive pursuit of beauty—and of beauties”—makes it “feel like an epic perfume commercial.”

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