October 17, 2018

Winnipeg
-4° C, Clear

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Torn in the U.S.A.

Locally shot drama takes nuanced look at the immigrant experience

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2009 (3274 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Not a lot of films could boast dividing their shooting locations between Israel's West Bank and Winnipeg.

In her feature debut, writer-director Cherien Dabis elegantly syncs those worlds-apart landscapes with the story of Muna (Nisreen Faour), a single mother living an unsatisfactory existence in her occupied homeland. Between dodging the sight of her ex-husband and enduring the indignities of negotiating her way through Israeli checkpoints on her way to and from work, life is tough.

It seems a golden opportunity when Muna and her son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) unexpectedly receive confirmations of long-forgotten green card applications allowing them to move to the United States.

Muna worries they will feel like "visitors" but Fadi asserts: "It's better than being prisoners in our own country."

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 60 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 60 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Our subscriber self service site is undergoing maintenance.

For immediate assistance please contact customer service at fpcirc@freepress.mb.ca or call 204-697-7001.

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Our subscriber self service site is undergoing maintenance.

For immediate assistance please contact customer service at fpcirc@freepress.mb.ca or call 204-697-7001.

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts

Our subscriber self service site is undergoing maintenance.

For immediate assistance please contact customer service at fpcirc@freepress.mb.ca or call 204-697-7001.

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts

Our subscriber self service site is undergoing maintenance.

For immediate assistance please contact customer service at fpcirc@freepress.mb.ca or call 204-697-7001.

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper

Our subscriber self service site is undergoing maintenance.

For immediate assistance please contact customer service at fpcirc@freepress.mb.ca or call 204-697-7001.

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts

Our subscriber self service site is undergoing maintenance.

For immediate assistance please contact customer service at fpcirc@freepress.mb.ca or call 204-697-7001.

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts

Our subscriber self service site is undergoing maintenance.

For immediate assistance please contact customer service at fpcirc@freepress.mb.ca or call 204-697-7001.

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2009 (3274 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Although the drama heads on a predict­able course, (Nisreen) Faour brings intelligence and humour to her per­formance and (Melkar) Muallem, as the smart adolescent turned surly and scared, is likewise sharp.

Although the drama heads on a predict­able course, (Nisreen) Faour brings intelligence and humour to her per­formance and (Melkar) Muallem, as the smart adolescent turned surly and scared, is likewise sharp.

Not a lot of films could boast dividing their shooting locations between Israel's West Bank and Winnipeg.

In her feature debut, writer-director Cherien Dabis elegantly syncs those worlds-apart landscapes with the story of Muna (Nisreen Faour), a single mother living an unsatisfactory existence in her occupied homeland. Between dodging the sight of her ex-husband and enduring the indignities of negotiating her way through Israeli checkpoints on her way to and from work, life is tough.

It seems a golden opportunity when Muna and her son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) unexpectedly receive confirmations of long-forgotten green card applications allowing them to move to the United States.

Muna worries they will feel like "visitors" but Fadi asserts: "It's better than being prisoners in our own country."

They arrive in suburban Illinois (played by Winnipeg) to live with Muna's sister Raghda (Hiam Abbass of The Visitor), her doctor husband, and their Americanized children.

Unfortunately, the move comes as America is invading Iraq (a sign outside a restaurant bears the prescient prank message "Support Our Oops") and anti-Arab sentiment is high. Raghda's husband is losing his patients, and the family is receiving death threats. (The Jordan-born Dabis herself grew up during the first Gulf War and her family experienced similar hardships.)

Muna, who has worked for years as a banker, can only find work at a White Castle restaurant to contribute money to the household. Meanwhile, Fadi is introduced to the American lifestyle by a sympathetic cousin (Alia Shawkat) but must endure taunts from idiotic fellow students who call him "Osama" and accuse him of carrying a bomb in his backpack.

Dabis does not shy away from making potent points about the follies of prejudice and pride, but a light directorial touch prevents the film from sliding into melodrama.

Her best asset is her lead actress. Faour is wonderfully appealing. Her character endures much, but Faour is attuned to the humour and innate dignity of Muna, and helps create an immigrant story that is both specific and wholly universal.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

 

Other Voices

Selected excerpts from reviews of Amreeka.

Although the drama heads on a predictable course, (Nisreen) Faour brings intelligence and humour to her performance and (Melkar) Muallem, as the smart adolescent turned surly and scared, is likewise sharp.

— Stephen Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

You keep rooting for these characters, even as the plot takes a series of broad and overly familiar turns.

— Christopher Kelly, Dallas Morning News

Faour, in an Oscar-worthy performance, renders Muna in shades of love and hope.

— Mark Savlov, Austin Chronicle

The thriving subgenre of immigrant displacement dramedy gets a confident new spin from Cherien Dabis.

— Ella Taylor, Village Voice

This slice of American life, as seen through the eyes of Palestinian immigrants, is nuanced, engaging and authentically observed.

— Claudia Puig, USA Today

A culture-clash dramedy whose background in Middle East conflict is leavened with vibrant energy, balanced politics and droll humour by first-time feature director Cherien Dabis.

— Rob Nelson, Variety

— Compiled by Shane Minkin

 

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us