Inch’Allah (2013)

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(Originally published in Village Voice)

Inch’Allah is one of those films that strives to be Important—at the expense of moving us. Chloé is a Canadian obstetrician working in a Palestinian refugee camp who becomes swept up in the lives of those around her: pregnant Rand and her brothers, Faysal and young Safi; the local boys who hang around the junkyard; and her Israeli soldier neighbor, Ava, who works at the checkpoint at the border that Chloé crosses daily. Naturally, there are tragedies, as these ordinary people attempt to live amid the constant tension and chaos in the West Bank, and Chloé learns the hard way that foreigners don’t always have a place in this unstable ecosystem. Inch’Allah is beautifully made and offers a portrayal of Palestine that feels authentic and unaffected. The supporting characters, too, are each subtly complex, with their own ways of dealing with their uprooted lives. But the film assumes a certain level of understanding from its viewers about the nuances of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which could make its themes elusive for some audiences. It also holds us at arm’s length from Chloé, never fully explaining how she ended up so far from home or why she’s drawn to her work in Palestine. This film has a lot to say, and it’s sometimes affecting, but most of the time feels too understated to really deliver the powerful effect it seems to be going for.

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