Son Of Babylon (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/02/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 91 mins

Emotionally engaging post-Saddam Iraqi drama with a strong script and a captivating central performance from young Yasser Taleeb.

What's it all about?
Directed by Mohamed Al-Daradji, Son of Babylon is a story about a grandmother (Shehzad Hussein) and her young grandson, Ahmed (Yasser Taleeb), taking a road trip to try and find the boy's father, three weeks after the fall of Saddam. Ahmed’s father disappeared almost twelve years previously and his grandmother suspects he was being held in a prison at Nasiriyah so they travel there hoping for news of the prisoners' release.

Along the way they encounter a series of fellow travellers, including an outspoken man who first attempts to rip them off but is later won over by their courage and strength of character; a young boy who befriends Ahmed and helps out with a stubborn bus driver; and Musa (Bashir Al-Majid), a kindly middle-aged man whose confession shocks and disgusts the grandmother, causing Ahmed to plead for forgiveness on his behalf.

The Good
In his debut role, young Yasser Taleeb delivers a superb performance as Ahmed, anchoring the film and buzzing with energy (and incessant questions) throughout. Hussein (also in her debut role) is equally good – the scenes where she struggles to keep her emotions hidden as she checks each new grave site are extremely moving.

Essentially, this is a road movie (the characters variously travel on foot and by bus, car and tractor) that's given a vivid political dimension because they are travelling through a seemingly deserted post-Saddam Iraq, replete with mass graves and large-scale destruction everywhere you look. There's also a powerful sense of collective grief running throughout the film with Ahmed's missing father standing in for the countless men and women who disappeared as a result of the war.

The Equally Good
Despite its harrowing themes, the film is not without humour. Indeed, it's worth seeing just to learn the euphemism "I'm going to call Saddam," for when you need the toilet.

Worth seeing?
Son of Babylon is a well made, powerfully moving Iraqi drama with a superb central performance from young Yasser Taleeb. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 23/09/2018 15:53

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