Filmmaker Eran Kolirin’s debut feature, The Band’s Visit, is a pleasant surprise amongst this season of films, a subtle smile, which ultimately gives way to a heartfelt and moving experience.
The film tells the story of a police orchestra from Egypt who come to Israel only to make a wrong turn and end up in a remote desert town, where cultures clash in a forgotten place void of culture.
The bandleader Tewfiq (Sasson Gabai) attempts to make the best of the situation while struggling to maintain his own dignity and authority. They encounter Dina (Ronit Elkabetz), a spitfire yet lonely waitress who along with a few other rag tag locals reluctantly take the members of the band in to their homes and eventually discover something wonderfully unforeseen about their guests.
In the course of the evening, Dina and Tewfiq bond, while another band member, the handsome Khaled (Saleh “can someone give this guy my digits” Bakri) plays Cyrano to a young Israeli would-be Romeo in a delightful scene at a local skating rink. In the meantime, a few other band members bring life lessons to their host family who are unraveling at the seams.
To witness Israelis and Arabs interacting in a film that does not involve fighting or even a mention of war is tremendously refreshing. The conflict looms in the subtext but the script never succumbs to it, instead the piece creates an endearing and slightly melancholy optimism for the characters and audience to explore and ponder.
Korlin masterfully weaves comedy, drama and poignancy in this pitch perfect piece.
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