Under The Bombs (Sous Le Bombes) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/03/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 98 mins

Emotionally engaging, impressively directed and superbly acted drama that uses authentic Lebanon locations to devastating effect.

What's it all about?
Directed by Philippe Aractingi, Under the Bombs stars Nada Abou Farhat as Zeina, a Shiite Muslim woman who sends her young son to live with her sister in southern Lebanon while she goes through a messy divorce back home in Dubai. However, after a round of bombings from Israel, Zeina loses touch with her sister and her son, so she travels to Beirut, hoping to find a taxi driver to take her south.

When she arrives, only one taxi driver is prepared to take her, a shifty-looking Christian named Tony (Georges Khabbaz), who seems to fancy his chances. Initially, Zeina's attitude towards Tony is understandably frosty, but as they search for her son, the devastation of their surroundings coupled with the collected grief of the people they meet begins to affect both of them and they come to understand each other a little better.

The Good
The performances are excellent. Farhat convincingly conveys Zeina's slowly thawing personality, while Khabbaz gradually reveals more and more about his character so that you find your distrust of Tony gradually ebbing away, just as Zeina does.

Aractingi films in a semi-documentary style, which is considerably heightened by filming amid scenes of horrifying devastation – for example, we see many destroyed buildings and villages and there are several scenes where the taxi can go no further because of a huge hole in the road.

The Great
In addition, Aractingi uses real people as extras, so their comments on lost family members are genuinely moving. The film also delivers some shocking statistics: the 2006 bombing of Lebanon by Hezbollah left 1,200 dead and over a million homeless and yet, according to the news, there were no casualties.

Worth seeing?
In short, Under the Bombs is an engaging, well acted and impressively directed drama that is both thought-provoking and extremely moving. Recommended.

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Content updated: 18/07/2018 15:38

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