Jose Haro
March 25, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT


Current Status
In Season
112 minutes
Willem Dafoe, Freida Pinto, Hiam Abbass
Julian Schnabel
The Weinstein Company
Rula Jebreal
We gave it a B-

Miral, Julian Schnabel’s hot-button Middle East drama, is a film of ripe contradictions, not all of them intentional. At once open-eyed and myopic, skillful and meandering, it tells the story of Israel from the viewpoint of the Palestinians, which is a perfectly valid thing to do. Yet Schnabel piles on so many anecdotes of victimization that the movie often seems to unfold in a twilight zone between ”apolitical” humanity and arty propaganda.

The central character, Miral (Freida Pinto, from Slumdog Millionaire), is born in 1973, but the film flashes back to the touchstones of Israeli history — the founding, the 1967 war — which are staged as a catalog of abuse against Palestinians. From there we leap forward to Miral’s radicalization by the intifada in 1987. She’s torn between her conservative father (Alexander Siddig) and a sexy rebel leader (Omar Metwally) — a rote situation that gathers a modicum of drama through the film’s unabashed embrace of Palestinian fury. But then the radical leader suddenly embraces moderation?as does the movie. Confused? So is Miral, a film that makes bits and pieces of the Palestinian experience come alive without assembling them into a coherent vision. B?

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