Review: ‘When Pigs Have Wings’

Neither kosher nor halal, the unusual catch of a Palestinian fisherman is the source of quite a few chuckles in the Euro-financed, Gaza-set "When Pigs Have Wings."

Neither kosher nor halal, the unusual catch of a Palestinian fisherman is the source of quite a few chuckles in the Euro-financed, Gaza-set “When Pigs Have Wings.” French novelist-turned-director Sylvain Estibal’s first feature lacks, somewhat ironically, a clear dramatic structure, though a humanistic perf from thesp Sasson Gabay (“The Band’s Visit”) and a combo of gentle situational comedy and light sociopolitical critique partially compensate for the story’s tendency to ramble. Limited fall release did respectable numbers in Gaul, and the marketing-ready premise could generate niche biz elsewhere.

Penniless piscator Jafaar (Gabbay) finds a pig in his nets, and his chronic poverty dictates that he find a buyer for the unclean beast, though that’s easier said than done. Jafaar tries a variety of options, which include taking it to the U.N., selling its sperm and, somewhat bizarrely, performing an unexpected stint as a suicide bomber. All are played for gentle laffs, though Jafaar’s rapport with his wife (Baya Belal) and the Israeli soldiers (Ido Shaked, Thierry Lopez) on their roof inject a welcome sobering note. Below-the-line credits, including a simple but effective score, are on the money.

When Pigs Have Wings

France-Germany-Belgium

Production

A Studiocanal release of a Marilyn Prods. presentation of a Marilyn Prods., Studiocanal, Barry Films, Saga Film, Rhamsa Prods. production, in association with Canal Plus, Orange Cinema Series. (International sales: Studiocanal, Paris.) Produced by Franck Chorot. Directed, written by Sylvain Estibal.

Crew

Camera (color), Romain Winding; editor, Damien Keyeux; music, Aqualactica, Boogie Balaban; production designer, Albrecht Konrad; costume designer, Marie-Josephine Gracia. Reviewed at Brady Theater, Paris, Nov. 18, 2011. (In Tokyo Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With

Sasson Gabay, Baya Belal, Myriam Tekaya, Gassan Abbas, Khalifa Natour, Lofti Abdelli, Ulrich Tukur, Khaled Riani, Uri Gabai, Ido Shaked, Thierry Lopez. (Arabic, Hebrew, English, French dialogue)

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