Divine Intervention

One of the stranger films in recent memory is Divine Intervention. It is an absurdist look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that plays out as a series of related vignettes. As a whole, the movie has a bizarre feel to it, and this is paradoxically what makes it work and what makes it a little frustrating. The overall point of the film is that this whole thing is pretty ridiculous. And writer/director Elia Suleiman (Cyber Palestine, War and Peace in Vesoul) makes this abundantly clear. Suleiman is the stoic, expressionless man who basically sits in his car most of the day and observes what is going on around him.

There sort of is a story in Divine Intervention, and that concerns the relationship between E.S. (Suleiman) and a woman (Manal Khader). They live on opposite sides of an Israeli checkpoint, so the only way they can meet is to drive into a neutral area behind the checkpoint. Because the entire thing is so dangerous, it makes their time together seem all the more poignant. The two sit in E.S.'s car and hold hands. E.S. also has a father in ailing health. This only emerges after a smattering of random events, including the first segment which features a bunch of kids chasing a Santa Claus.

If that doesn't make any sense, then that's what parts of the rest of the movie feels like. The segments go all over the place, from biting satire to just plain weird. In part, Suleiman is showing that amidst all the violence and mistrust, everyday life goes on for the people. They just have to learn how to deal with this extra layer of tension present. Then, Suleiman shows some signs of brilliance, like when he has some Israeli soldiers questioning whether or not they should stop an invading balloon. Then he gets weird by having a Matrix-like martial arts sequence between soldiers and a woman.

In the end, the important thing about a movie like this is that it makes one think about its subject. Suleiman does get the viewer thinking about why everything is as it is. He poses a lot of questions, but never provides an answer (not that he has to). Because he does prove a little difficult at times, Divine Intervention sometimes becomes bogged down, but this only lasts for a while before something random happens. On somewhat of an unfortunate note, Divine Intervention failed to qualify for an Academy Award because it either didn't submit the proper paperwork or was told it didn't qualify because it has no country.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 32 minutes, Arabic and Hebrew with English Subtitles, Not Rated but contains some mature themes, most likely a PG-13.

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