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Captain Abu Raed (2008)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 8

A poetic and deeply felt debut by director Amin Matalqa, Captain Abu Raed is simultaneously mythic and melodramatic.


Average Rating: 6.2/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 5

A poetic and deeply felt debut by director Amin Matalqa, Captain Abu Raed is simultaneously mythic and melodramatic.



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Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 604

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Movie Info

Jordanian director/screenwriter Amin Matalqa tells this tale of an elderly airline janitor mistaken for a pilot by the children of his neighborhood who does his best to inject a little imagination into their bleak reality. Abu Raed always wanted to see the world, yet the closest he ever got was talking to travelers as they walked through the airport and reading books about faraway places. The discarded captain's hat he sports gives the local kids the impression that Abu was once a pilot, and


Art House & International, Drama

Amin Matalqa

Mar 2, 2010

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All Critics (34) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (8)

Great taste isn't quite the same as great filmmaking, and director Matalqa sometimes lapses into broad humour and even broader melodrama in this generally low-key, wistful tale.

April 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A sweet-tempered tale about the power of fantasy and storytelling becomes a starker parable about human connection and personal sacrifice.

April 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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Gentle, humanistic and suffocatingly sentimental.

September 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Writer-director Amin Matalqa's debut affirms life, plucks heartstrings, and knows no shame.

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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His journey makes for a complex film that goes beyond the obvious. It, too, travels. And it travels well.

August 21, 2009 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
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An endearing blend of myth and melodrama that forthrightly explores family abuse in its own society.

August 21, 2009
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Aan engaging Jordanian film about friendship between generations -- and courage at any age.

April 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

...the movie finally can't help but come off as a disappointing missed opportunity.

April 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews | Comments (2)
Reel Film Reviews

a genuine find, a humane and compelling movie of scale. Written and directed by Jordanian-American Amin Matalqa, it's a simple tale of airport janitor Abu Raed (Nadim Sawalha), who is mistaken for an airline pilot by the children in his working-class neig

March 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A stealthily powerful drama ... highlighted by a beautiful score and strong performances.

October 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

A rare Middle Eastern film that keeps its focus on its characters rather than larger concerns that mirror the region's continuing strife.

September 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Herald
Boston Herald

Matalqa's film shows how the most liberating flights might be those of the imagination.

September 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

[A] heartwarming drama.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Memphis Tri-State Defender
Memphis Tri-State Defender

A moving dramatic fable about an elderly airport janitor's relationship with a bunch of Amman street kids.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

Despite the film's flaws, there's something winsome about Abu Raed in his captain's hat, entertaining kids with visits to cities that exist only in his imagination.

September 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Christianity Today
Christianity Today

It's easy to get attached to Captain Abu Raed

August 27, 2009 Full Review Source:

This is a loving, sad and tragic film, but a hopeful movie, too.

August 22, 2009 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

...both the somewhat sentimental tale of a senior citizen making a change in the life of a child and a movie that forges its own path with unexpected developments.

August 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Captain Abu Raed reaches for restrained empathy but cannot hide its bald-faced emotional manipulations and squishy, sentimental core.

August 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Captain Abu Raed

Abu Raed (Nadim Sawalha)is a simple airport janitor at the International Airport in Amman. One day he finds a discarded captain's hat in the garbage.When he wears it on his way home, one of the kids in the neighborhood mistake him for a pilot and wants him to tell about 'his adventures'. Though he is unwilling to tell any story at first, Abu Raed doesn't mind pretending to be the local captain who regales the kids with his 'airborne exploits.' What seems to be a simple,unimportant hat at first turns out to be a treasure trove of love and fun.We later find out that Abu Raed is a guy who resists being an embittered, hardened old man in spite of the fact that he lost his wife and his only child. Though he is a simple janitor, he speaks profoundly from the heart. He is well-read and wise. He even has a smattering of a few European languages.

With such an original story, truly moving picture and convincing acting you just want it to be bit more fast-paced actually. Since there are lots of subplots in the movie, during almost more than half of the movie you just wonder which set of events (or people) will be regarded less important. Whose story will be developed? The story of Nour (Rana Sultan), a female pilot whose wealthy father poorly tries to find her a husband or the story of the local kid Tareq (Udey Al-Qiddissi)who is forced into child labor by his father instead of going to school? In the end, Amin Matalqa chooses to tell the story of Abu Murad whose mother constantly gets beaten by his abusive father. Though you can't tell everyone's story in a feature length movie, Mataqa's finalizing all these subplots in a finale in the last twenty minutes leaves a half-baked flavor in your cinematic enjoyment and you wish it were a better-paced and better-edited movie but that doesn't mean Abu Raed is not a movie that's worth every minute of your time.It is purely humanitarian,truly moving movie which somehow gets to you. The pièce de résistance, however, is the fact that this movie Amin Matalqa's feature length debut. 4 1/2 Stars 9-5-13
September 6, 2013
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

Writer/director Amin Matalqa's film about a lonely widower begrudgingly befriending the local children blossoms into a look at the yearnings of the heart as well as the price such dreaming might cost. Filmed in Amman, Jordan, here is no brand name canned soup but the rather the homemade dinner call of a promising new voice.
June 28, 2012

Super Reviewer

A great little film. Maybe slow-moving by American standards, but insightful with developed characters, unpredictable, and very moving.
November 6, 2010

Super Reviewer

This movie tugs at the heart strings without being sappy. There are several stories going on throughout the movie but they remain central to the one story of Captain Abu Raed. This movie is now in my top 10 movies ever. GREAT film.
October 21, 2010

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Capitan Abu Raed (ES)
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