Director: Julian Schnabel
Starring: Hiam Abbas, Freida Pinto, Yasmine Al Massri, Ruba Jebreal, Alexander Siddig
Duration: 112 min.
The story of four women whose lives intertwine in the starkly human search for justice, hope, and reconciliation in a world overshadowed by conflict, rage, and war.
Miral is a film directed by Julian Schnabel and his followup to the widely acclaimed and Academy Award nominated The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Based on an autobiographical novel by Rula Jebreal, the story centers on Miral (played by Indian actress Frieda Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire fame), a young Palestinian girl growing up in Jerusalem amidst the Israeli/Palestine war who finds herself drawn into the conflict.
It is a fascinating emotional and political story, but in the hands of Schnabel results in a film full of misguided stylistic choices and undeveloped plots. The cinematography is handled well by Eric Gautier, but the overly artistic lens filtered sequences, rapid cut editing, and dizzying hand held camera twirls appear more as a distraction than as a dramatic aid. Also the soundtrack featuring Laurie Anderson, Ennio Morricone, A.R. Rahman, and Tom Waits is just a bit too cool for the serious subject on screen.
The acting is very good, especially Hiam Abbass as a wealthy Christian woman who runs a school and orphanage; and the very photogenic, though maybe too much so for this type of film, Freida Pinto is nonetheless convincing in the title role. However the narrative jumps around and neither character is given a chance to fully develop. Veteran actors Willem Dafoe and Vannessa Redgrave also have brief cameo appearances early on.
At least the film avoids political heavy-handedness, remains mostly neutral, and ends with a glimmer of hope for peace.