Miral (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/12/2010

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Disappointing, disjointed and frequently dull drama that's let down by a clunky script, some baffling editing decisions and an underwhelming lead performance from a badly cast Freida Pinto.

What's it all about?
Directed by Julian Schnabel and based on the memoir by Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, Miral begins in 1948 with Israel being partitioned and young philanthropist Hind Husseini (The Visitor's Hiam Abbass) turning her father's home into a school for Palestinian orphan girls. The film then abruptly jumps forward three decades and we briefly meet Miral's mother, Nadia (Yasmine Al Massri), whose tragic death results in young Miral (Yolanda El-Karam) being left at Hind's school by her father (Alexander Siddig).

As a teenager, Miral (now played by Freida Pinto) is horrified by the destruction she witnesses during the Intifada and soon becomes radicalised after falling for handsome freedom fighter Hani (Omar Metwally). Her rejection of the non-violent approach brings her into conflict with both her father and Hind, but Miral's problems are only just beginning as she is first imprisoned by Israeli police and then exiled.

The Good
Miral is impressively shot, with striking cinematography courtesy of Eric Gautier, though the overly busy camera-work and editing occasionally get in the way of the story and become distracting. As for the performances, Abbass is excellent as Hind, but her story is cut frustratingly short to the point where you wonder if a huge chunk of it ended up on the cutting-room floor; this would also certainly explain the relatively brief appearances by Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave.

The Bad
Miral's biggest problem is that Freida Pinto is badly miscast in the lead role and fails to bring the part to life, with her supposedly big dramatic scenes completely lacking emotional impact. It also doesn't help that she's very obviously an Indian actress playing an Israeli part. The film is also let down by some confusing editing decisions, particularly in regard to Hind Husseini: she's a much more interesting character than Miral (just as Abbass is a much better actress than Pinto) and the film might have been better if it had given equal weight to her story. In addition, the script is frequently dull and laden with clunky, agitprop-style dialogue, while the pacing drags considerably in the middle section.

Worth seeing?
Miral is a disappointingly dull drama that fails to engage on an emotional level thanks to a boring script and an uninspiring performance from a miscast Freida Pinto.

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Content updated: 23/10/2017 01:36

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