Trying to understand the source of his terrible headaches, Ramallah-based documaker Raed Andoni delves into his own psyche and, by extension, into the mental health of Palestine in “Fix Me.” Stronger on intellectual content than on style and structure, the pic is an intermittently engaging mix of provocative ideas and narcissism that will work best on the smallscreen.The most interesting byproduct of Raed’s many visually uninteresting sessions with his psychologist is the observation that Palestinian “normality” (e.g., the Israeli occupation, checkpoints, travel restrictions, imprisonment without cause, beatings) would be considered crazy anywhere else. To compensate for the cognitive dissonance of their current existence, most of his compatriots become involved in politics and resistance, and cherish the ideal of reclaiming their land. Exploring how others summon the mental strength to carry on, Raed — a tall, skinny, prickly man in his 40s — interviews electrician Omar Dabboor, a cancer survivor, and Bassem Al Ajouz, a former prison cellmate from Raed’s own activist days. These middle-aged men, who suffered years in Israeli jails, admit that their dreams of personal freedom have been subsumed by the “Big Dream” of national freedom, and that their experiences have forced them to be strong. Raed brings these exchanges back to the therapy room, returning to what feels like the pic’s main topic: himself. Ever the contrarian individualist, he demands his right to be weak, to refuse to compromise, to resist categorization. By this time, many viewers may agree with an earlier comment by Raed’s mother, that his problems aren’t important enough for a film. Yet the mere fact that he stubbornly insists that they are the topic underscores his point that not all Palestinian films (or lives) need to be about the struggle. Structured around the therapy sessions, with family gatherings and interviews not so smoothly mixed in, the pic frequently feels draggy; DV-shot images are crisp, but compositions are conventional. Best craft contribution is the percussion score.
A Dar Films (Palestine)/Arte France Cinema (France)/Akka Films (Switzerland)/Rouge Intl., Les Films de Zayna (France) production, with the support of the DFI, DDC, Fonds Sud Cinema, the Ministry of Culture and Communication, Le Centre National de la Cinematographie, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TSR. (International sales: Les Films de Zayna, Paris.) Produced by Palmyre Badinier, Nicolas Wadinoff, Nadia Turnicev, Julie Gayet. Executive producer, Saed Andoni. Directed, written by Raed Andoni.
Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Filip Zumbrunn, Aldo Mugnier; editor, Tina Baz; music, Eric Rug, with the cooperation of Yousef Hbisan; sound (Dolby Digital), Masaki Hatsui. Reviewed at Dubai Film Festival (competing), Dec. 12, 2009. (Also in Sundance Film Festival -- World Cinema, competing.) RUNNING TIME: 98 MIN.
(Arabic, English dialogue)
(Arabic, English dialogue)