By Owen Gleiberman
Updated September 24, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s easy to see why Tarek (Rami Doueiri), the rascally teenage hero, walks around wearing a look of barely suppressed delight. It’s 1975, and his city is being torn in two by a war he couldn’t give less of a damn about. For Tarek, war means freedom: no school, the right to wander the streets scarfing falafel and looking for a place to develop his Super-8 home-movie footage. West Beirut meanders a bit, but it has a fractious, clear-eyed fusion of comedy, innocence, and sudden danger. A-

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