The Band’s Visit
Directed by Eran Kolirin (PG-13)
Stranded in small-town Israel, an Egyptian police band finds unexpected friendship.
The Band’s Visit is a “little picture in the best sense of the term,” said Lewis Beale in Film Journal International. The Israeli production, written and directed by Eran Kolirin, follows the members of an Egyptian policemen’s orchestra, which has been booked for a gig at an Arab cultural center in Israel. After taking the wrong bus, the band winds up in the middle of a desert town called Bet Hatikva and the men must rely on the hospitality of people they long ago learned to hate. A subtle plea for cultural understanding, The Band’s Visit is not so much about language but rather about its inadequacies, said Scott Foundas in the LA Weekly. With nothing in common but broken English, the characters use song to express themselves. Kolirin, a first-time filmmaker, takes the sentimental concept of “music as a universal language” and develops it into an “unexpectedly lyrical and resonant” story. You leave the theater feeling as if “you have witnessed a small victory of wisdom over indifference and ennui,” said Anthony Lane in The New Yorker. Kolirin doesn’t barrage you with “some cloying, heal-the-world paean to political harmony.” The Band’s Visit approaches the idea of peace in the Middle East with such a subtlety and spiritedness that it never has to blow its own horn.