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:: Amreeka

‘Amreeka’ is the kind of film that reminds you that there is more to the American film industry then the weak Hollywood storylines, pretty faces and mega-million dollar blockbusters. ‘Amreeka’ contains something that a lot of modern American films fail to include… and that is heart. Whether it be the fact that the film is based on a true story or the fact that the script allows the audience to identify with the characters, this is a film that works… and works well!

Directed and written by Cherien Dabis ‘Amreeka’ tells the story of Muna Farah (Nisreen Faour) and her son, Fadi (Melkar Muallem). A single mother working as a banking but tired of enduring the harsh military lifestyle in her home country Muna decides to immigrate with Fadi to America, a country that they have been promised is full of riches for them. However things don’t go entirely to plan when Muna finds herself penniless, unable to find work and is forced to watch as Fadi is bullied because of his Middle Eastern appearance. Life in post-9/11 America is certainly not what Muna and Fadi thought it would be.

Dabis tells a story in a way a lot of filmmakers only dream they could. This may be because this story is personal to her, or it might just be that she is a natural storyteller. She doesn’t fill scenes with unnecessary information or dialogue which allows the story to flow on without the audience ever losing concentration. More importantly she also makes this gritty story look good. Her eye for detail and allowing the pictures to tell the story is top notch, while her characters are so well written and developed that you find it impossible not to find yourself becoming emotionally involved with them.

The other shining lights in ‘Amreeka’ are the two inexperienced leads in Nisreen Faour and Melkar Muallem. Both are exceptional in their roles and under the guiding hand of Dabis have produced performances that you can only hope become award-winning roles. Certainly their performances here should be attracting more work for them… hopefully as I would love to see both of them in something soon.

Dabis doesn’t hold back with ‘Amreeka’. It doesn’t take much scratching under the surface to see that this film takes a fair whack at American society and its attitude towards Middle Eastern immigrants. Neither Muna or Fadi are Muslim yet they are mistreated as if they are by those who have been blinded by the 9/11 attacks. It is a whack at America, but it’s also a much needed expose and kick up the backside as well. It’ll cop criticism but this is certainly a story that needed to be told.

This a beautifully written film that will emotionally affect anyone that watches it. Some wonderful directing and an exceptional script from newcomer Nisreen Faour makes this a must see. A brilliant film indeed.