Striving for a “Romeo and Juliet” feel with a reincarnation twist, “I.D.” gets hijacked by its knee-jerk anti-Israeli overlay. Even the title — which refers to a brief propaganda scene dealing with Arab unity — is misleading, as the script’s main focus is its central love story. Like helmer Ghassan Shmeit’s earlier “Something Is Burning,” pic is set in the occupied Golan Heights; it’s also produced by the film branch of Syria’s Ministry of Culture, which partly explains the anti-Israeli and anti-democratic thrust. Positive elements are crushed by a confusing narrative, though smallscreen play is likely throughout the region.

Ahed (Qays Sheikh Najib), the potter son of a family in the Golan Heights, believes he’s the reincarnation of Youssef, a man on the other side of the border whose father has just died. With a group of sheikhs, he travels to pay respects to the family he feels he knows, grimacing through the humiliation of Israeli security so he can find the woman he loved back in 1961. Perplexing structure weakens the already schizophrenic tale, though Shmeit shows a nice eye, and Russian d.p. Sergei Mikhalchuk appreciates the effects of light.

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  • Production: A National Film Organization production. (International sales: National Film Organization, Damascus.) Produced by Hasan Rahal. Directed by Ghassan Shmeit. Screenplay, Wafik Yousif, Shmeit.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Sergei Mikhalchuk; editor, Ali Iylan; music, Isam Rafeh; production designer, Muafak Kat; costume designer, Lidia Yushinko. Reviewed at Cairo Film Festival (Arab Competition), Dec. 5, 2007. Original title: Al-haweya. Running time: 101 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Qays Sheikh Najib, Salma al-Masri, Majd Fidha, Sawsan Arshid, Ali Kraeim, Vilda Samour, Abdul Rahman Qasem.
  • Music By: