The Movie Waffler First Look Review - GAZA MON AMOUR | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - GAZA MON AMOUR

gaza mon amour review
An aging fisherman strikes up a relationship with a market worker.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Tarzan Nasser, Arab Nasser

Starring: Hiam Abbass, Salim Daw

gaza mon amour poster

You wonder at what point it’s all going to stop mattering, when life’s pleasures and surprises will definitively and inevitably run out: one day you’re at an age where it’s unseemly to hang out in the club, the next day (perhaps more disconcertingly) you wonder what the attraction was in the first place. And then, then what happens to you: your curiosity, your interest, your passion for everything? Your ability to fall in love anew at an age when you’ve seen it all before, and, frankly, you’re tired of it? Is there hope?! Well, here’s Gaza Mon Amour.

gaza mon amour review

Depicting the tentative first steps of such an autumnal relationship, Arab and Tarzan Nasser’s film is a love story which quietly crackles with human spirit and compassion as it tells the story of sixty-somethings Issa (Salim Dau), a fisherman, and Siham (Hiam Abbass), a market worker, as they strike up a companionship in contemporary Palestine. Those warbling, portentous queries which opened the review (and nibble away at us as we age)? They don’t apply to the Nasser brothers' mini-masterpiece, which is instead gentle, funny and moving, refreshingly free from the expected angst that its plotline and loci would imply.

That’s not to say that the film ignores the conflict, or the fact that each of its protagonists are getting on a bit. However, these immutabilities are firmly pressed into the background; the television inexorably breaks quiet news of destruction, while the generally assured Issa and Siham’s family/colleagues pontificate about each’s single status. In neatly observed gender priorities, Issa’s male co-worker congratulates him on managing to avoid all the ear ache of a marriage, while at the same time his sister lines up (literally!) potential spouses for him! No dice, sis, Issa has his eye on the mysterious and attractive Siham (whose daughter applies similar pressure to her), a local woman who he contrives to share moments with in the most gorgeously sweet and touching ways imaginable. He offers her his umbrella when it rains at the bus stop, and pretends he needs his trousers taken up at the haberdashery where she works. No swiping right or left, here.

gaza mon amour review

See, as a man who spends his nights catching fish in a trawler, and his mornings mongering said sardines at the market, Issa’s life has little call for sartorial elegance. There is little call for much, really. It’s a lonely and edging on destitute existence (at one point a man with a clipboard warns Issa that he ‘pays or we cut off the power’- !), at an age where the world conspires to make you irrelevant. So, imagine Issa’s surprise when one dark morning he hauls a full size, and fully priapic, statue of Apollo from the Mediterranean (well, the god did transform into a dolphin back in the day). It has to be a sign, right? After all, this is the deity associated with truth, prophecy and healing...

Or maybe the emergence of the statue is just going to bring more problems for Issa, troubles which start with how to get the heavy load home and ends with Issa being banged up overnight (with a little Goonies style effigy splintering in between), but at least SOMETHING is happening. It’s never too late, it turns out, for life to spring a little surprise and offer some adventure. And, who knows, maybe a castrated statue of an Olympian deity will provide the inspiration required to properly approach Siham, too.

gaza mon amour review

Gaza Mon Amour is a beautiful film, with its elemental power drawn from the lived-in qualities of the performers, the comfortable and deeply affecting verisimilitude which the film creates, exuding warmth and emotion from the white dust and broken concrete of its setting. Fall in love.

Gaza Mon Amour is on US/CAN VOD from November 5th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

2021 movie reviews