The disparate lives of shell-shocked soldier Ali, medical student Mehdi and bride Ahlaam — whose fiancé was kidnapped by Saddam Hussein’s forces on their wedding day — converge in a psychiatric hospital.
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Beautifully shot, rich with homage to the vitality and multiple layers of popular culture in 1990s Iraq, with the psychiatric system posed as an allegory for a much broader political message. At times the acting seems dry, and according to sources who know, not all the accents seem authentic to Baghdad at the time.. majestic and profound to the educated outsider nonetheless.
An interesting, and at times harrowing, look at three individuals living in Baghdad, who find their lives irrevocably changed by the war in Iraq. Writer-director Mohamed Al Daradji doesn't quite piece everything together perfectly, but he does enough to make this a worthwhile look at the war from the POV of citizens caught up in the midst of the horror of it.
Good film with a crucial message: normal people suffer from brutal regimes AND regime change. Local details are crucial - they humanise and tell the stories of our neighbours. People like us. Their regime, our regime - their freedoms and ours - their oppression and ours. We are not all the same, but it is not angels vs. devils, either way round. No wonder artists and story-tellers are distrusted by the powerful.
Nice people against evil regime against well minded but handicapped by engagement rules invaders.
One story that can be told, but a very partial view of the conflict. But then you can't bite the hand that feeds you too much.
One things that remains is that life was impossible and many people died. And the film reminds us that it is all probably for nothing.
Made in notoriously difficult circumstances and based on real experiences, this is a brave piece of film-making and storytelling. It is especially strong as it establishes the back stories of the protagonists, often with a naturalistic ease against a backdrop of impending catastrophe. The portrayal of the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad is pure nightmare: harrowing, heartbreaking and necessarily remorseless.