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With a PhD in Chemistry, devout and bearded, Syria-born Ashade Mouhana (Abdellatif Kechiche) drives a cab in New York, and must accept financial assistance from friends who attend the Islamic Council of America so that he can pay a lawyer to get his Canadian brother, who is being detained as a '2nd tier suspect', released. He also has to look after his toddler nephew and French-speaking Caucasian sister-in-law, Eloise (Elodie Bouchez), and is fearful that his brother may be tortured in Syria. One night he befriends a passenger, who identifies herself as Phyllis (Robin Wright Penn), claims she is Head of Programming of Q-Dog Television, sympathizes and offers to assist him get his brother released. He gets a shock when she asks him to carry out an act of terrorism as retribution against America. He walks away, and subsequently finds out that she has stolen his money. Shortly thereafter, his cab is confiscated by secret agents, and Eloise is held for questioning. Vengeful, he shaves off... Written by
Under the radar, and for good reasons, but not for lack of trying...
Sorry, Haters (2005)
An emotionally intense but cinematically thin movie. I'm not sure where that leaves a viewer--I think it depends on what you want from a movie. The theme is ripe. An immigrant (a Muslim) with immigration problems meets a troubled woman (played by Robin Wright Penn) who abuses his situation. At it's most intense and personal it's moving and disturbing, and sad, if such terrible drama can just be plain old sad.
But there are improbabilities (including the way their first meeting in a cab becomes very personal, with another woman and her child, in the blink of an eye). And there is a kind of plainness to it all, the writing, the filming, the story itself, that is linear and not quite enough to keep it going. It's true, I think, that being low budget was not an issue, but even within the style it was filmed, there might have been a better sense of camera-work and editing. The one thing that pushes forward best is the acting, often conspicuous for exceeding the writing. Director and writer Jeff Stanzer deserves a nod for trying, but he's only taken this half way, was a movie.
Do I recommend this? I think only if you like Penn, like indie films about serious contemporary issues regardless of quality, or if you are interested in the theme of Muslim integration and devotion to not being integrated. It might surprise some people with its honesty and tenderness, between the long lulls. But others will sense, in the first twenty minutes, the tone of the whole movie, and might back out. For those latter, the ending is an intense surprise, and disturbing to the point of demented, so there is a need, perhaps, to stick it out, just for that five minutes. But then again, maybe not.
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