Private received a lot of publicity when it was submitted as Italy's film for Best Foreign Film. After all, the director and writers are Italian, and Italian money funded the film. Yet, none of the characters speak Italian. Private takes place in and around a Palestinian house in the occupied territories. Nobody even eats spaghetti. So the Academy refused to accept it as Italy's film. It's debatable on whether the Academy was correct, but either way, a lot more people know about Private then otherwise.

The film takes a different look at the Israeli-Palestinean conflict - director Saverio Costanzo looks at things from the Palestinian perspective. This is not something Americans typically see in films. Costanzo does have an opinion, but he keeps it on a more metaphorical level. Private is about what happens to a specific family when Israeli soldiers claim their home as their own. It is claustrophobic, and frustrating for its lack of what seems like common sense. This is exactly what Costanzo wants. He wrote the screenplay with Camilla Costanzo (I Corti Italiani), Alessio Cremonini (I Corti Italiani, Voci), and Sayed Oashua want the viewer to feel everything that this family feels. Private shifts between long (sometimes too long) stretches where little happens, to quick bursts of intense confusion.

The family (the credits list their last name only as "B.") find their lives shattered when a small group of soldier break into their house. The force the family of seven to spend nights in the living room. During the day, they can roam around downstairs. They are forbidden upstairs by the paranoid and volatile Commander Ofer (Lior Miller), who houses his soldiers there. They give no reason for their intrusion. They simply come in, wreck the house, and force the family to obey at gunpoint. It is incredibly frightening, especially since the youngest child of the family is two.

Each member reacts different. Mohammad (Mohammed Bakri, The Olive, The Body) wants to protest silently. He obeys the soldiers' orders, but refuses to let them intimidate him. The soldiers are obviously doing everything they can to force the family to leave, and he will have none of it. His behavior is completely baffling, which is what makes it so effective. His son Jamal (Marco Alsaying) is the opposite. He wants to do something violent against the soldiers. His father protests, arguing that this solves nothing. Mohammad's oldest daughter Mariam's (Hend Ayoub) anger changes to curiosity. She sneaks upstairs and hides in the closet to eavesdrop. This leads to some incredibly tense moments when the soldiers come close to catching her. Costanzo uses handheld cameras, giving a first-person perspective of what the family is suffering through.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Arabic, English, and Hebrew with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains some intense situations and minor language, probably a PG-13.

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