Ralph Breaks the Internet
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
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All Critics (64)
| Top Critics (21)
| Fresh (11)
| Rotten (53)
| DVD (3)
The director injects some showy images into the mix but, without a defined frame for Schnabel to paint in, "Miral" is an unholy mess.
What "Miral" lacks in performance art, Schnabel attempts to replace with design.
Miral has the pedigree, the attitude, the weighty subject matter. It's just not much of a movie.
How can you appeal to both sides when you tell only one side's story?
It's a miniseries awkwardly stuffed in the body of a two-hour drama about the Palestinians' long struggle against the Israelis.
...is [Schnabel] being this indulgent because he can't fully engage the noncommittal material, or are we just noticing the indulgences more because the material's so noncommittal?
Miral seems more interested in its own prestige than in the characters it seeks to portray.
Schnabel makes it known from the beginning that he wants to educate as well as entertain, although what he delivers is a potted history rather than something insightful or culturally minded.
This is what happens when a self-serious movie artist tries to impress his girlfriend.
Miral overrides its screenwriting flaws with Schnabel's uncanny sense of film art.
...sporadically engrossing yet thoroughly uneven...
Schnabel dedicates Miral to "everyone on both sides who still believes peace is possible"-a noble sentiment, to be sure, but will anyone on either side really see themselves reflected in such a simplistic, ham-fisted treatment?
This movie is a portrayal of what occurred to the Palestinians. I enjoyed the movie and it brought tears to my eyes.. The actors performed a moving performance that pulled on my heart strings. A film made to show what the Palestinians have had to face and still face on a daily basis. Some people may say that this movie is Pro-Palestinian that is for you to decided. Excellent film that didn't get much play in the US. 5 Stars 8-16-12
"Miral" starts with Bertha(Vanessa Redgrave) introducing Hind Husseini(Hiam Abbass) to Edward Smith(Willem Dafoe) at the American Colony Hotel in Palestine in 1947. That introduction comes in handy decades later with Edward, now a colonel in the United States Army, being able to navigate Israeli roadblocks for Hind who now runs an orphanage. Meanwhile, Nadia(Yasmine Al Massri) looks elsewhere for shelter to escape the abuse she suffers at home and ends up in a seedy strip club before getting six months for headbutting a woman on a bus. In jail, she shares a cell with Fatima(Ruba Blal), a terrorist, who intrudoces her to her brother(Alexander Siddig) who Nadia marries on her release. And that's how Miral(Freida Pinto) enters the story...
As a director, Julian Schnabel has a way of utilizing his skills as an artist to give his films a unique beauty. At the same time, he has a way of getting tripped up by politics and that could not be any truer than with "Miral." Either, he ignores them altogether when he intercuts a bombing with Polanski's "Repulsion" which is getting a little cutesy for my tastes. Or else Schnabel is as subtle as having a boulder dropped on your head. And I say that, even though I am on his side when it comes to the subject of Palestinian independence. Nor does it help in going over the familiar terrain of 40 years of history that he cannot decide who the movie should be about, Hind or Miral, as neither have much in common with each other, outside of their nationality. One place where Schnabel succeeds is in his insight that there is a difference in the attitudes of generations of Palestinians. Whereas the earlier generation may have been more accommodating, the younger generation is more willing to fight, resulting in the First Infitada.
I try to watch as many art-house films as I can; not because I'm a hipster and think that such stuff is always better than the mainstream offerings from Hollywood, but because art films are genuinely interesting, and once in a while, along comes a masterpiece. And then again, also once in a while, there comes an art film that nearly ends all art films; one that's either just-plain-bad, too controversial to swallow, or an effort from a director who had better impress his followers...or else. Julian Schnabel, the director of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", definitely has some seriously visionary work to follow that film up with when it comes to his newest feature. "Miral", alas, is one of those art films that doesn't nearly fit the definition of a masterpiece. In fact, it's a mess of artistic vision and melodramatic, uneven storytelling. It doesn't work in the slightest, but it is not a bad film.
Bad films are annoying, and while there are PLENTY of annoyances to be found here, "Miral" has some good aspects to it to at least try and overshadow the bad ones. However, in the end, things just feel so out of place and over-stylized that you have to stop and realize that this mediocrity fest IS from the guy who also made the said film, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly". Now THAT was a great movie; while this film is just barely half the one that the earlier film was.
The film chronicles Hind Husseini's establishment of a Jerusalem orphanage, as well as the establishment of Israel. Husseini first discovers over fifty homeless children living on the streets, and she decides to take them in; feeding them, and giving them shelter. In a matter of time, which is like, no time at all, really; the fifty kids have grown to about two thousand, and this is where Husseini decides to build the orphanage for all the children.
The film's titular character, Miral (Freida Pinto) is sent to the orphanage after her mother dies, and her father almost forcefully sends her off, as he cannot take care of her on his own. Miral is unaware of the problems growing in the outside world; but she evolves into a very beautiful, very intelligent, and respectful young woman. She is given a chance, finally, to realize the troubles that surround her when she is assigned to teach at a refugee camp. This is where Miral opens her eyes and sees the violence, the problems; and some of the beauty.
Schnabel decides to show one side of the story being told here; the "other side". I respect his artistic vision, as I do believe he is a true artist, but this is the first film of his that I've seen in which it's sort of a win-win situation. You want beautiful cinematography, taut direction, and good leading performances; you've got 'em. And hey; just because I didn't feel anything whatsoever with this story does not mean that you won't. Obviously Schnabel obviously felt something; maybe you will too.
I wanted to like "Miral". I wanted to be one to praise it in spite of all this critical panning it has received, which surprised me when I first saw the reactions of various critics, but I can't lie; I must speak the truth. I did not like the film. For every good thing, there was also a plethora of bad ones. The drama felt weak, I never really cared, and thus, I felt bored; which is strange, because I expected Schnabel to be the silent, observant type. He exercises some craft here, he gives his film an interesting look. But that just isn't enough. The film won't win much support in terms of its political themes, just as it won't have many admirers as a film overall. And it shows; I now realize why "Miral" has gotten such negative critical reception. I don't necessarily hate it, as some people seriously do, but there's not enough going on here for me to recommend it. Once again; it isn't a bad film. It's just an unfocused, nearly joyless and most certainly bland one.
"Miral," the new film from writer-director Julian Schnabel, is more a work of politics than a work of art, and it's not that interesting even as a work of politics. It presents a very basic pro-Palestinian point of view that skirts all the really tough issues that make the Israeli/Palestinian struggle so intractable. I'm not sure what value there is in over-simplifying Middle Eastern politics and making what is essentially a TV movie based on these matters.
"Miral" is put together reasonably well. Schnabel (whose previous films were "Before Night Falls" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly") appears to have decided early on to create a very simple movie, and he maintains careful focus on delivering that objective. Freida Pinto ("Slumdog Millionaire") does an adequate job playing the eponymous lead character, who grows up mostly in an orphanage and gets involved in the "intifada" movement in the late 1980s. This of course puts her on a collision course with the Israeli Police.
An example of the film's laughable over-simplifications concerns the 1967 Six-Day War. The war, first of all, is never explained, but the aftermath is discussed. The Israeli "occupation" of the West Bank that followed the war is presented as simple aggression on the part of Israel. There is no mention of the endless violence waged on Israel from that territory in the years leading up to the war or the use of that area as a staging ground for an invasion of Israel. I'm no pro-Israel zealot, but let's at least be fair when critiquing their military actions. Characterizing Israel as a pure aggressor is ridiculous. It's as ridiculous as believing the Palestinians are all terrorists.
As a work of art, "Miral" is a huge disappointment. As a work of politics, it is also a letdown. But it does work as a simple drama, and there are moments of genuine emotion. Surprisingly, the most interesting passages concern the personal ordeals suffered by Miral's mother, who killed herself when Miral was a young girl. I suspect that Schnabel the artist was drawn more to the mother's story. But Schnabel the (mediocre) politician unfortunately took the dominant role for this project.
With all the film's ordinariness, there still is something inspiring about a Jewish filmmaker trying to look at things from a pro-Palestinian perspective. Imagine a movie made in the 1980s by a white filmmaker in South Africa championing the black movement there. Even if the film were mediocre, one would be moved. In that sense there is something special about "Miral."
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