The Syrian Bride

2005

The Syrian Bride

Critics Consensus

A humane and empathic work, The Syrian Bride depicts the personal impact of politics upon individuals.

88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 41

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 16,161
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Movie Info

A family deals with the typical anxieties of a wedding day while also confronting the political turmoil of the Middle East in this drama, a collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers. Hammed (Makram J. Khoury) is a leading political figure in Majdal Shams, a Druze community that has been under Israeli occupation since the late '60s. Years ago, Hammed arranged for his daughter Mona (Clara Khoury) to marry Tallel (Derar Sliman), who has since become a successful actor in Syria. Hammed has gathered the family together to see Mona off, but the occasion is a bittersweet one -- given the combative relationship between Israel and Syria, once Mona crosses the border with her husband, it's unlikely she will ever be able to return. Hammed's oldest son, Hattem (Eyad Sheety), comes back from Russia, where he now lives with his wife, but his father still refuses to forgive him for leaving the land of his birth. Marwan (Ashraf Barhoum), a younger son, is a businessman living in Italy who uses his visit home as an opportunity to visit Jeanne (Julie-Anne Roth), an American United Nations representative he's been dating. And daughter Amal (Hiam Abbass) helps her sister Mona deal with the stress and details of her big day as she struggles to live as a modern woman while married to Amin (Adnan Tarabshi), who wants his spouse to follow a more traditional path. Makram J. Khoury was ideally cast as Hammed in at least one respect -- he's the real life father of Clara Khoury, who plays his screen daughter Mona.

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Critic Reviews for The Syrian Bride

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (36) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for The Syrian Bride

  • Nov 05, 2012
    Heartbreaking but well told story of a wedding across political lines. I don't think anyone will forget the very poignant depcition of a bride stranded at a border crossing unable to be a participant in her happy day.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 12, 2010
    Not much of a political statement and not much of a drama either. I did not connect to the main characters and after a while all I wanted to do was fast forward to the end. Solid performances by the whole cast did not save the film from mediocracy.
    Nicolas K Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2010
    Dragged on a lot and was too slow paced for me but It was beautifully shot and had a lot of great details like 5 spoke languages in it and insight into different cultures, I believe anyone who lives in that culture would appreciate this movie greatly as they have more perspective as to the situation and can relate.
    Matthew M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2006
    "<i>There are no rules. Marriage is like a watermelon. You can't tell what's inside till you open it up.</i>" Eran Riklis' <i>The Syrian Bride</i>, arguably the best Israeli film since <i>Late Marriage</i> and <i>Broken Wings</i>, represents a significant achievement on many levels, both artistic and ideological. Set on the Israeli-Syrian border, circa 2000, the film uses a wedding as a strategic event to depict a complex political situation and a wide canvas of social and personal issues. <a href="http://s172.photobucket.com/albums/w25/EarthlyAlien/?action=view¤t=syrian_bride.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i172.photobucket.com/albums/w25/EarthlyAlien/syrian_bride.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a> The leftist ideological elements of <i>The Syrian Bride</i>, which is directed by an Israeli and co-written by a Palestinian woman, are unmistakable. Yet, the humanism that informs this Israeli-French-German co-production is ultimately far more important than its occasionally didactic and schematic aspects. The film's other novelty is its particular setting, the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the northern part of the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War and home to many Druse, Arabic speakers who feel an allegiance to Syria and have a religion that is related to Islam but retains its own particular customs and culture. To live in that area and marry someone from Syria is a particularly troublesome and distressing endeavour. The wedding itself, overseen by the Red Cross, has to take place in a no-man's land between Israeli and Syrian checkpoints. And once the wedding is over and the bride moves to Syria, she is not allowed to return to her birthplace and won't ever see her family again. With this situation as a base, <i>The Syrian Bride</i> layers in all manner of personal tensions, pressures, resentments and difficulties as well as the kind of conflicting societal proscriptions and loyalties that exist with particular intensity in that part of the world. It can do so much without breaking pace because it is written, directed and acted with real compassion and sympathy for the humanity of its characters, no matter who they are or on what side of these multiple issues they turn out to be. The film opens with an early morning close-up of a woman with a worried look on her face. Her name is Amal (Hiam Abbass) and she has more than enough to be worried about. Her younger sister Mona (Clara Khoury) is supposed to be married on this day at the border to a Syrian man she's never met. While Mona worries about going "from one jail to another," Amal is shocked at the reality of never being able to see her beloved sister again. Their father, Hammed (Makram Khoury, Clara's real-life father), is a pro-Syrian community leader, he has been jailed by the Israelis and, although out on parole, is forbidden to go to the border where the wedding is to take place. Hammed's two sons also present challenges. Marwan (Ashraf Barhoum, <i>Paradise Now</i>, <i>The Kingdom</i>) is a hustler living in Italy always waiting for his big deal to come through, but Hattem (Eyad Sheety) is the bigger difficulty. Estranged from his father because he left the community and married a Russian woman, he is returning home for the first time in eight years and bringing his wife and son. But the film's most rational character is Mona's sister, Amal, a modern woman who in defiance of her husband has applied to the university to study social work. Bright and open-minded, Amal is trapped in a tradition and culture she wants to break out of. The film hints at a radical alternative to the status quo through the character of Amal, who challenges the imposed borders and boundaries. It's a border film par excellence, it's about physical, mental, and emotional borders, and the risk involved in crossing them. It also deals intelligently with nationalism, political unrest, sexual repression, and patriarchal domination, all forces that impinge on the family's internal dynamics and the fate of its individual members. The central concerns, though, are Family dynamics and tensions between the restricting force tradition and the invigorating power of personal realization. Politics, which is in the background in the film's first chapters, moves into the foreground in the last act, which in tone approximates comedy of the absurd. The banality of the conflict and the mindless bureaucracy of the Middle East are depicted by the near-farcical attempts of a French Red Cross worker to gain Israeli and Syrian co-operation for Mona's wedding day passage. At the end, the family, the government, the military officials, and all those gathered on both sides of the border, find themselves facing an uncertain future, trapped in No-Man's Land between Israel and Syria. Yet, there's a ray of hope, and the final image is rather optimistic, depicting Amal as she walks proudly toward an unknown yet potentially promising future. Based on three years of travelling to the Golan Heights, the film benefits from Riklis' meeting the people, learning the history, and getting to know the political and personal situation of the Druze culture. It takes a deeper look into a region haunted by hostility, indifference, and bureaucracy. To successfully explore the complex story of women torn between families, tradition, and borders, the eye and the pen of a woman was essential, and Riklis has chosen as his collaborator Palestinian writer Suha Arraf, who's well-versed in the Arab (and Druze) world, while maintaining a more progressive point of view. The result of this professional union is a film that criss-crosses the boundary between unwarranted optimism and painful pessimism, without ever resolving the contradiction. While not an overtly message film, <i>The Syrian Bride</i> does have a political agenda. It just doesn't push it down our throats. Riklis clearly hopes that his film will, in some way, contribute towards a greater understanding, compassion, and tolerance of the Middle East conflict. While it deals with one family's experience, its thesis is that nothing is easy in a part of the world where geopolitical issues play out in ordinary people's lives. There are no villains here except for inhumane political regulations and narrow societal prohibitions, but there is hope - hope that the strength of humanity in general and women in particular will end up making a difference. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they did?
    Pedro P Super Reviewer

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