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Ajami (2010)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 65
Fresh: 63 | Rotten: 2

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


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 23
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 0

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



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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 6,889

My Rating

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

Aug 24, 2010


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All Critics (65) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (2) | DVD (3)

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.

June 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop 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.

May 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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Any given half-hour of the film has dramatic impact; at two hours, it's a power punch to the gut.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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The fact that these two Israelis from opposite camps worked together to make this movie is as important as the movie itself.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A compelling drama about prejudice and folly.

April 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop 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.

April 22, 2010 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Una contundente ópera prima, narrada en forma fragmentaria a la manera de Amores Perros o Crash, que retrata con brutal honestidad la vida en un conflictivo vecindario de Jaffa. Estupendo elenco de actores no profesionales.

June 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Gripping modern-day drama about crime and tensions among the Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs.

September 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

... acutely insightful about the social divisions within Israel, but it examines them without scolding or sentimentality.

September 4, 2010 Full Review Source:

A confident contemporary crime thriller that, yes, may rely on perhaps a few too many plot coincidences to hang together, but otherwise offers a bracing insight into a troubled situation without hectoring us with insipid platitudes.

July 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Scotsman

Stories of violence, revenge and corruption smartly told by next-gen foreign filmmakers

June 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

The actors, every one of them new to their craft, make the everydayness of the picture indelible and real.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

The pattern of connections and coincidences is a little overschematic, but the movie has energy, especially in the grippingly real shooting scene at the beginning.

June 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian

A rare film that will force you to confront your own prejudices.

June 17, 2010
Little White Lies

Ajami has an appealingly rough-edged, authentic feel to it, thanks to some strong location work and the fact that the cast is drawn largely from non-professionals and real life locals.

June 17, 2010 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

By showing how people fail to live together - in a film you could call Israel's City of God, with its sectarian-feuding story lent power and immediacy by improvisation and non-professional casting - Ajami shows how they might or should live together.

June 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Ajami may be set in Israel, but at times it plays more like an American gangster drama. The film does address the ethnic and social tensions that run through the country, but it does so in a nuanced and refreshingly clear-eyed way.

June 13, 2010 Full Review Source:

The movie is insightful in revealing how messy life can be with enemies living in close proximity to one another. The press notes point out the...

June 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

While Quentin Tarantino used the narrative device to give his film a caffeinated jolt of hipster cool, co-directors Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani use it brilliantly to show the chaotic web of violence that traps Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.

June 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

A deceptive movie, one that introduces its characters in the heat of violence, allows us to make conclusions based on what we see, then shatters our assumptions in the telling of how that moment came about.

May 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

Ajami is a powerful crime drama in which all are heroes and all are villains.

April 30, 2010 Full Review Source:

Contrivances bring this bunch together, and the plotting gets a little too complicated and convoluted. Luckily, these are characters that feel real, whose problems are relatable.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

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.
November 27, 2011
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.
January 23, 2011

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?
August 25, 2010

Super Reviewer

Ajami is a brutal, gripping and honest look at the endless violence that has been devastating the Middle East. A complex mosaic drama set in a neighborhood where Jews, Muslims and Christians clash against each other in intense hatred and revenge.
August 19, 2010

Super Reviewer

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