Thursday, October 20, 2016

[Review] The Idol

"We'll be big, and we'll change the world."

Hany Abu-Assad directs The Idol, a moving Palestinian drama that saddens as much as it delights. It's full of very familiar elements: Coming-of-age, the power of music, rags to riches... And though we've seen stories like these told many times before (even perfected in this year's excellent Sing Street), it doesn't mean they aren't still worthwhile experiences.

Set in conflict-ridden Gaza, the young Mohammed (Qais Atallah) and Nour (Hiba Atallah, a glowing standout) are brother and sister, playing in a 4-piece band that... let's just say they need a little tuning up. The crew attempts to scrounge up enough money to buy new instruments and equipment, all while maintaining lofty dreams of one day performing at the Cairo Opera House.

This film is beautifully shot. Early on, each frame is alive with exuberance and hustle, bringing out the vibrant and fruitful colors even amidst the despair and desolation of the backdrop. The story is all about relentless determination, no matter the circumstances. There's also a nice sense of innocent 'Kids say the darndest things' humor to it. And all the young actors are absolutely great here.

The midway point contains a poignant shocker, and there's a major shift in the narrative, making the film a disjointed tale of two halves. Unfortunately, it also loses some of its spunk. However, the turn rings as a necessary extension and conclusion to this story. With its spanning of different time periods, the film feels like a minor rendition of the Oscar-winning sensation Slumdog Millionaire.

The Idol emphasizes the fact that many children will grow up in completely different environments and face tougher obstacles than some can even imagine--but a wide-eyed smile is universal.

( 7.5/10 )

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