The Syrian Bride

Set in the hotly disputed Golan Heights area between Syria and Israel in 2000, Eran Riklis' remarkable film explores the combined effects Middle Eastern geopolitics and age-old repressive conventions have on a 25-year-old bride. Mona (RANA'S WEDDING's striking Clara Khoury) is one of many ethnic Druze who live in the Heights, and she's about to get married...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Set in the hotly disputed Golan Heights area between Syria and Israel in 2000, Eran Riklis' remarkable film explores the combined effects Middle Eastern geopolitics and age-old repressive conventions have on a 25-year-old bride. Mona (RANA'S WEDDING's striking Clara Khoury) is one of many ethnic Druze who live in the Heights, and she's about to get married for the second time. Like most Druze marriages, it's been arranged by her family, but the fact that Mona's never met her husband-to-be, Syrian TV-star Tallel (Derar Sliman), is the least of her worries. Mona's father, pro-Syria dissident Hammed Salman (Makram J. Khoury), has spent time in an Israeli prison and is forbidden to come near the security zone that separates Israel from Syria, where Mona is to marry Tallel; if he does, he'll immediately be arrested. Mona's brother Hattem (Eyad Sheety), ostracized for marrying a Russian doctor (Evelyn Kaplun) and moving to Moscow, is returning home for the first time in eight years and is guaranteed a cold reception from Hammed, who's been warned by the town elders to shun his son or be ostracized himself. Most poignantly, Mona knows that this day will be the last time she'll see her family: Once she crosses into Syria to live with Tallel, Israel will never permit her to return. But the outcome of this tense day is worse than anyone could have imagined. When her papers are stamped with a new Israeli stamp that the Syrian border official refuses to recognize, Mona finds herself unable to proceed into Syria and forbidden to cross back into Israel to her family. Mona is reduced to an absurdity: an unmarried bride without a country. Life in Israeli-occupied territories has been the subject of a number of films, but what makes this one special is its feminist streak — Riklis vividly shows how women like Mona's older sister, Amal (Hiam Abbass), at loggerheads with her insecure husband over her wish to pursue her education, are restricted not only by politics but by tradition. There is, however, considerable humor to what might have been an exceedingly grim film, and most of it comes courtesy of Mona's slippery brother, Marwan (Ashraf Barhoum). A lothario with a sizable gap between his front teeth, Marwan makes his living importing luxury items, and always seems to have a watch or a bottle of perfume with which to romance the ladies. One of his conquests is Jeanne, a French Red Cross worker (Julie-Anne Roth) who eventually proves to be Mona's unlikely savior.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Set in the hotly disputed Golan Heights area between Syria and Israel in 2000, Eran Riklis' remarkable film explores the combined effects Middle Eastern geopolitics and age-old repressive conventions have on a 25-year-old bride. Mona (RANA'S WEDDING's stri… (more)

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