Equal parts audacity and self-indulgence, ambitious magical realist “Heels of War,” from tyro Lebanese helmer-scribe Joe Bou Eid, adds beaucoup imaginative license to the story of how his parents met and married. Sometimes playing like faux-Emir Kusterica and sometimes startlingly unique, the pic is only fitfully compelling, but there’s no denying Eid’s undisciplined talent. The combo of black comedy, sex and sacrilege set against the backdrop of the 1982 Israeli invasion could make it a tricky sell in Lebanon.Eid portrays his Beirut-bred mother (Joy Karam) as a haughty cat-eyed beauty given to wearing high heels. She meets his father (Chady El Tineh), a hunky seminarian, in the small southern village in which her family has been evacuated. He’s dressed in black and white while she embodies sexual temptation from her red lips to her clinging, low-cut red dress. Eid surrounds the pair with other over-the-top support characters; his voiceover narration frequently freeze-frames the action and directly addresses them. Although disjointed cutting confuses the threads of this less-than-straightforward tale, and bold lensing uses a few too many spinning pans, the art direction, sound editing and lush score are notable.
A Naftaleen Entertainment, Dubai Entertainment and Media Organization production in collaboration with the Lebanese Ministry of Culture, with the support of Enjaaz. (International sales: Naftaleen Entertainment, Beirut.) Produced by Youcef Joe Bou Eid, Ghassan Yared. Executive producer, Jana Wehbe. Directed, written by Joe Bou Eid.
Camera (color, DV), Mounah Saliba; editors, Elias Chaheen; Nadim Chartouni; music, Mike Massy; art director, Randa Saikaly; set designer, Nasser-Joe Semrany; costume designers, Fares El Sokhn, Jules Nasser. Reviewed at Dubai Film Festival (competing), Dec. 11, 2011. Running time: 98 MIN.
Joy Karam, Chady El Tineh, Elie Saikaly, Antoine Balabane, Jana El Hasan, Nawa Samel.