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Double Edge Reviews

Despite its controversial topic and occasional documentary flavor, DOUBLE EDGE is a ploddingly predictable melodrama about Israeli-Palestinian issues. Faye Milano (Faye Dunaway) is an American photojournalist with a minimal background for her first foreign assignment in Israel, since she can't speak any of the languages and is still carrying in her baggage a selection of the popular books on the relevant issues. To judge from an opening conversation with a graying Israeli reserve officer, David (Amos Kollek), to whom she gives a ride, Faye seems slightly pro-Palestinian. Later, she learns that David is a writer and nephew to Jerusalem's mayor and uses his romantic interest in her to get an interview with Mayor Kollek. Here the fictional narrative combines with a documentary impulse, since Faye does a series of interviews with real political representatives on both sides of the issue. Despite these interviews, Faye displays an incredible ability to go off half-cocked with fragmentary leads that she does not bother to complete or confirm. She also likes to counterpoint her print stories with conflicting photographs, so her interview with Mayor Kollek is illustrated with a shot of an Israeli policeman clubbing a Palestinian schoolgirl, who incidentally spat at her for her intercession. Upon her arrival in Jerusalem, Faye hears of an incident in which a Palestinian boy was shot after having smashed in the skull of an Israeli soldier with a hurled brick. In her effort to report the story, Faye is invited to the Shafik household and meets the dead boy's elder brother Mustafa (Mohammed Bakri). She is received with that traditional Arab hospitality that always seems at such odds with the thickening tensions. Her clandestine photograph of Mustafa's later arrest earns the revocation of her press credentials since it includes a clear close-up of an arresting officer who is found with his throat cut. The Israeli army censor tells Faye that had she submitted the photo they would have cropped the guard's face, perhaps saving his life. A trifle chastened, Faye still submits the story of an injured Palestinian boy, who, it turns out, was hurt in a household accident and flown by army helicopter to the hospital burn unit. In the final sequence, as the frame freezes, Faye finds herself uncomfortably in a situation similar to the one she had heard about on the radio during her first day in Jerusalem. The device of using naive or prejudiced reporters in situations they can barely fathom is not new. Joseph L. Mankiewicz did it about the first Indo-Chinese war in THE QUIET AMERICAN, based on the novel by Graham Greene, and so did John Wayne and Ray Kellogg about the Vietnam war, in 1968's THE GREEN BERETS. In DOUBLE EDGE, Faye Milano emerges as foolish as the transposed settler from New York's upper west side who frantically waves his automatic because of a couple of burning car tires that earlier an Israeli Army patrol had sensibly ignored. She cannot fit the incidents of cold-blooded ruthlessness she eventually witnesses on both sides into a simple framework of good guys and bad guys. (Adult situations.)