You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

O Jerusalem

There's a great movie inside "O Jerusalem" that wants freedom and independence, but is suppressed by an earnestness that's practically colonial.

With: J.J Feild, Said Taghmaoui, Daniel Lundh, Mel Raido, Patrick Bruel, Maria Papas, Peter Polycarpou, Ian Holm, Tovah Feldshuh, Elie Chouraqui.

There’s a great movie inside “O Jerusalem” that wants freedom and independence, but is suppressed by an earnestness that’s practically colonial. A primer on the birth of Israel as told through an Arab-Jewish friendship, this Elie Chouraqui-helmed meller features some first-rate cinematography and solid acting, but absolutely no sense of emotional boundaries. Interest in the subject matter should generate some B.O., but the movie will likely be more of a desert bloom on DVD.

Based on Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre’s 1972 novel, the story begins in ’40s New York, amid a rush of energy, period detail and a great sense of youth. Two New York Jews, Bobby (J.J. Feild,) and Jacob (Mel Raido), become friends with Arab-Muslim Said (Said Taghmaoui) and try to remain so while the Holy Land is being partitioned, Jews and Arabs are killing each other and the war rages for Israeli independence.

Battle scenes are only slightly less cheesy than Ian Holm, in what seems to be fright wig, filling in the historical blanks as David Ben Gurion, and Tovah Feldshuh, waxing imperious as Golda Meir.

Reflecting the infant nation itself, “O Jerusalem” is powered by a kind of naivete on the part of its characters (and filmmakers) that makes it resemble “Romeo & Juliet” (albeit with a same-sex Romeo and Juliet, who are Jewish and Arab instead of Montague and Capulet) and a heart-on-its-sleeve approach to wartime friendship and world politics.

There’s also more than a slight tendency to tell auds a bit too much about how they should feel, which is obvious enough. Bobby and Said kill each other’s people but never each other; the passion that rages to this day and prevents Middle Easterners from reaching an accord never quite demolishes their bond, even as the war collapses communities, cities and people. If only it were so: Many a friendship has been ended over the Middle East, and “O Jerusalem,” with its starry-eyed if battle-scarred optimism, can’t quite achieve credibility.

Production values are top-notch.

Popular on Variety

O Jerusalem

France - Greece - U.K. - Italy - Israel - Germany - U.S.

Production: A Samuel Goldwyn Films (in U.S.) release of a Les Films De L'Instant, France 2 Cinema (France)/Cinegram (Greece)/Films 18 (U.K.)/Titania Produczioni (Italy)/GG Israel Studios (Israel) co-production, in association with Forecast Pictures (France)/VIP Medienfonds 3, VIP Medienfonds 4 (Germany)/Rising Star, Blue Rider (U.S.)/Box Film (U.K.), with the participation of Canal Plus. Produced by Andre Djaoui, Elie Chouraqui, Jean-Charles Levy, Jean Frydman and Andy Grosch. Executive producer, David Korda. Co-producers, David Korda, Jeff Geoffray, Walter Josten, Jeff Konvitz, Mark Damon, Marcus Schofer. Directed by Elie Chouraqui. Screenplay, Chouraqui, Didier Lepecheur, based on the novel by Dominique Lapierre, Larry Collins.

Crew: Camera (color), Giovanni Fiore Coltellacci; editor, Jacques Witta; music, Stephen Endelman; set designer, Giantito Burchiellaro; costume designer, Mimi Lempicka; sound (Dolby Digital), Tim Cavagin; associate producers, Caroline Dhainaut-Nollet, Anouk Nora, Laure-Anne Rossignol, Patrick Irwin, Nicolas Manuel. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Oct.17, 2007. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: With: J.J Feild, Said Taghmaoui, Daniel Lundh, Mel Raido, Patrick Bruel, Maria Papas, Peter Polycarpou, Ian Holm, Tovah Feldshuh, Elie Chouraqui.

More Film

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content