A Palestinian husband and wife hope emigrating to Paris will save their failing relationship in Tawfik Abu Wael's airless sophomore feature, "Last Days in Jerusalem."

A Palestinian husband and wife hope emigrating to Paris will save their failing relationship in Tawfik Abu Wael’s airless sophomore feature, “Last Days in Jerusalem.” Though the subject is strong, the realization keeps auds at arm’s length, favoring deadening line delivery and a claustrophobic style. Pic tries to make personal the pressurized limbo of life in the Occupied Territories, but instead foregrounds an unappealing duo whose situation engenders little emotion. Fest play is unlikely to last long.

Theater actress Nour (Lana Haj Yahia) is married to older Dr. Iyad (Ali Badarni), though the spark is gone, and the hardships of life in the Palestinian Territories, combined with their marital stalemate, push them toward emigration. On the way to the airport, Iyad gets a call that the hospital is overwhelmed with victims from a bus attack, and they turn around. Nour’s self-centered mother (Huda Al Iman) offers little succor at the family home, while Iyad, overwhelmed, cracks up while operating at the hospital. Abu Wael (“Thirst”) briefly introduces some of the difficulties faced by East Jerusalem residents, yet relies on viewers’ prior knowledge to extract emotion. Visuals are clean if cold.

Last Days in Jerusalem

Israel-France-Germany-Palestinian Territories

Production

A Sophie Dulac Distribution (in France) release of a Lama Films, Sophie Dulac Prods., Cabiria Films, Neue Pegasos production. (International sales: Wide Management, Paris.) Produced by Amir Harel, Ayelet Kait, Dulac, Michel Zana, Ilan Flammer. Co-producers, Elena Trifonova, Ernst Szebedits. Directed, written by Tawfik Abu Wael.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Caroline Champetier; editors, Guy Lecorne, Gaby Shihur; music, Wisam Gibram; production designer, Nael Kanj; costume designer, Hamada Atallah. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 11, 2011. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- Contemporary World Cinema.) Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Lana Haj Yahia, Ali Badarni, Kais Nashif, Zuhaida Sabbagh, Huda Al Iman. (Arabic dialogue)

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