Miral review

Frieda Pinto shot to fame last year thanks to the success of Slumdog Millionaire and this is her first film out of the gate since that superb Oscar winner. Alas, Miral will not be featured at any award ceremonies, but Ms Pinto nevertheless acquits herself well in a more substantial role.

She plays the titular teenager whose political conscience is awakened while growing up in an orphanage in Israel. She's a Palestinian and the Middle East conflict that rages on between the two states provides the backdrop for her to mature and become a passionate activist on behalf of her people. It is formulated by her relationship with first love Hani (Metwally), a rabble rouser who perhaps isn't as strong an advocate for Palestine's independence as his colleagues would hope.

But Miral's tale doesn't take up the whole plot here. The film actually begins years earlier in 1948 with the story of Hind Husseini (Abbass), the caring woman who founded the orphanage and educational centre for all the refugee children. We see her age over the decades as her country's plight has an effect on her charges. We also witness the narratives of two other characters, fiery freedom fighter cum terrorist Fatima (Blal) and Miral's unhappy mother (Masri).

It's an ambitious undertaking overall, and though it raises pertinent issues about the conflict, it's never gripping, the dialogue too stilted to convince. The performers are all commendable though, everyone filling their roles convincingly without resorting to histrionics, and Freida looks beautiful of course, but it lacks emotional heft. An OK treatise on a difficult subject, worthily intentioned to be sure, but sadly not the dramatic powerhouse it could and should be.

Miral at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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