Ajami (2010)



Critic Consensus: This multi-character drama balances intimate portrayals and broad political implications to paint a bracing and moving portrait of the Middle East conflict.

Movie Info

Palestinian Scandar Copti and Israeli Yaron Shani collaborated on this independent drama, which examines how the troubled relationship between their countries colors everyday life in the Middle East. Nasri (Fouad Habash) is a teenager whose family is in crisis: his uncle got into an altercation with a local crime boss, and in reprisal, his cousin has been murdered. The shooters, it seems, originally intended to kill Nasri's younger brother, Omar (Shahir Kabaha), in lieu of the cousin. Abu Elias … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Scandar Copti, Yaron Shani
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 24, 2010
Box Office: $0.6M
Kino International - Official Site


as Abu Elias

as Dando

as Nasri's Uncle

as Dando's sister
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Ajami

All Critics (66) | Top Critics (23)

This is vividly challenging, utterly inclusive and heartfelt cinema. It's not only gripping to watch, but it'll open your eyes to the intractable human conundrums behind the blood-stained headlines.

Full Review… | June 16, 2010
Time Out
Top Critic

The performances are searingly intense, all delivered by non-professionals cast to type and extemporizing within the parameters of the script. They take the play out of acting, and the effect is unvarnished realism.

Full Review… | May 28, 2010
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Any given half-hour of the film has dramatic impact; at two hours, it's a power punch to the gut.

Full Review… | May 6, 2010
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

The fact that these two Israelis from opposite camps worked together to make this movie is as important as the movie itself.

Full Review… | April 29, 2010
Top Critic

A compelling drama about prejudice and folly.

Full Review… | April 22, 2010
Seattle Times
Top Critic

It's an admirably even-handed portrait of life in an occupied ghetto that is bounded by checkpoints. Everyone we meet is a more or less honorably motivated victim of circumstance.

Full Review… | April 22, 2010
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Ajami

Directed by a Palestinian and an Israeli, this film tells the stories of several men in Israel/Palestine who struggle in the midst of colonization and ethnic hatred.
It wasn't until over an hour into the film that I finally figured out what was going on. The directors use an Tarantino-esque style of fractured narration and points of view, and though it may have been my fault - I might have been slow on the uptake - the story-telling was not as crisp as Tarantino, who is able to introduce all his characters in a short period of time without letting plot lines dangle too long.
That said, once Ajami revealed itself, I found it remarkably compelling. Every moment rang with verisimilitude, and it felt like I was watching real people's lives unfold in a tragic, star-crossed land.
Compared to other genuine films about Israel/Palestine, like Laila's Birthday, Ajami is much darker, almost hopeless. Its message is a desperate condemnation of the hatred and violence that suffuse everyday life in the directors' homelands.
Overall, I think now that you know you can trust the directors' storytelling - that you know that it all makes sense by the end - you might be able to enjoy the hell out of this important film.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

It took a bit of time to figure out the disjointed non-linear plotting with this film. The detailed flashbacks, with increasingly more details, was likely the whole point of the movie. Every time more details were filled in, and more information was available, the assumptions about the motives and actions of the characters became more understandable. By the very end, it all came together in a most shocking way. Well done.

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Okay, I think I'm in the twilight zone but, then again, I'm pretty sure I'm not. It's not just that this is an interesting movie with some agile narrative manipulation along the lines of Pulp Fiction and Rashomon. That's a definite plus. You know you're watching a decent movie when time flies and you don't even bother to check the counter on your DVD player. What is truly mind-blowing about this movie, however, is something I did not know going in nor did I even discover it, quite by accident, until I watched the extras and learned the "actors" are not professional actors. That's right, even though I kept telling myself, "Wow, this is a great group of really fine actors," I was mightily surprised to find out in the extras that not a single one of the people in this movie is an actor. They're all plain old folks brought in from the community, who were led through a few acting workshops, and then turned loose in front of the camera. And if that isn't mind-blowing enough, none of them saw the script or knew the story throughout the filming of the movie. They were simply put into scenes, told what was basically going on in those scenes, and then they ad-libbed all the dialog. All the dialog. Every single word! You have to see this not just because it's a decent story and well made, but especially because these are just average Joes and Janes from the neighborhood improvising a two-hour movie. I repeat: mind-blowing! And I hardly ever view the extras, as I've said in the past. A quick survey of "the critics" leads me to believe that not a whole lot of folks know -- or maybe even care -- about this phenomenon. And it is phenomenal, don't you think?

Lanning : )

Super Reviewer

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