An Israeli role-reversal spin on "The Way We Were," curio "Whispering Embers" simmers arch melodrama with low comedy, but its good intentions are undone by an uneven tone and stilted perfs. Adventurous fests could spark, with regional play and local ancillary the pic’s best bets.

An Israeli role-reversal spin on “The Way We Were,” curio “Whispering Embers” simmers arch melodrama with low comedy, but its good intentions are undone by an uneven tone and stilted perfs. Adventurous fests could spark, with regional play and local ancillary the pic’s best bets.

In a northern Israeli Arabic village, genial 30ish communist Jamal (Mahmoud Abu Jazi) tries to withhold honeymoon favors from his adoring wife, Abir (Nisreen Faour), unless she becomes a comrade. Years later, disillusioned with family and party, Jamal walks out on his wife and young son. Abir finds her husband’s novel on his computer, reads of his infatuation with progressive Leila (Raeda Adon), unavailable to him due to her Brit b.f., Richard (David Milton Jones). Journo pal Gazi (Ali Suliman) and wife Buthina (Amal Kaiss) attempt to help Abir; meanwhile, Jamal has taken up with terrorists. Now “Abu Katada,” he finds politically charged fantasy blending with his broken life. Helmer Ali Nassar, who cameos as an Islamic cell leader, joined the Israeli Communist Party at 19 and studied film in Moscow, so the autobiographical elements aren’t a stretch. Tech package is TV-level, overlit and under-paced.

Whispering Embers

Israel

Production

A Snabel production. (International sales: Praxis Films, Tel Aviv.) Produced by Yael Hadassi-Bachar, Rami Damri, Eviatar Dotan, Ali Nassar. Directed, written by Ali Nassar, from the novel “The Absent” by Suhil Kiwan.

Crew

Camera (color), Amnon Solomon; editor, Zohar Sela; production designer, Ariel Roshko; costume designer, Walled Moed. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Aug. 31, 2008. Arabic, English dialogue. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Mahmoud Abu Jazi, Nisreen Faour, Ali Suliman, Raeda Adon, David Milton Jones, Amal Kaiss.
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