Review: ‘Inheritance’

Hiam Abbass' helming debut stridently plays so many instruments its story of tradition vs. modernity among a Palestinian family in Israel during wartime is rendered ridiculous under the meller chords.

Unless Hiam Abbass plans on directing Turkish soaps, it’s best she stick to acting. “Inheritance,” her helming debut, is a choral work that stridently plays so many instruments, its story of tradition vs. modernity among a Palestinian family in Israel during wartime is rendered ridiculous under the meller chords. Surprisingly, the fine thesp has difficulty getting good perfs from her cast of top Palestinian players, and only the sound recording, an integral part of the pic’s conception, overcomes script weaknesses. Abbass’ name will guarantee some play, especially in France and Turkey.

In an Israeli-Arab village near Lebanon, paterfamilias Abu Majd (Makram Khoury) sees his five grown kids roiling in unhappiness. Youngest Hajar (Hafsia Herzi) scandalizes the family by loving Englishman Matthew (Tom Payne, wooden). Debt-laden Majd (Khalifa Natour) and Samira (Abbass) tensely host their daughter’s wedding until falling bombs interrupt the festivities; despite the near constant sounds of war, the impact largely remains aural. Infertility, collaboration and infidelity rear their heads in what’s meant as a microcosm of Palestinian society in Israel, but all these suds just don’t wash. A final helicopter shot fits the overall lack of subtlety.


France-Israel-Turkey-Palestinian Territories


A Diaphana release (in France) of an Agat Films & Cie, Alma Films presentation of an Agat Films & Cie, Alma Films, Depo Film, Arte France Cinema, Appaloosa Films, Metro Communications, United King Films production, in association with Fonds Sud, Israel Film Fund, with the participation of Arte, Canal Plus. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Nicolas Blanc, Arik Bernstein, David Silber. Executive producer, Yariv Mozer. Co-producers, Ender Sevim, Faruk Ozerten. Directed by Hiam Abbass. Screenplay, Abbass, Ala Hlehel, based on an original script by Hlehel. Co-writers, Nadine Naous, G.A. Wasi.


Camera (color, widescreen), Antoine Heberle; editor, Guy Lecorne; music, Loik Dury; production designer, Nael Kanj; costume designer, Hamada Attalah; sound (Dolby Digital SR SRD), Ashi Milo, Ulas Agce; line producer, Baher Agbariya. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Aug. 31, 2012. Running time: 90 MIN.


Hafsia Herzi, Hiam Abbass, Yussef Abu Warda, Ashraf Barhoum, Ruba Blal, Clara Khoury, Makram Khoury, Khalifa Natour, Tom Payne, Lina Soualem, Mouna Soualem, Ali Suleiman, Ula Tabari, G.W. Wasi. (Arabic, Hebrew, English dialogue)
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