Love, Theft and Other Entanglements – Berlinale 65 Panorama
A simple story of a simple anti-hero who tries to fix his almost destined troubled life in Palestine. Debut feature film by Muayad Alayan.
Muayad Alayan is a Palestinian director and cinematographer. He has a long career in the field of short films and he has participated in many acclaimed film festivals. Also as a cinematographer he has been engaged in awarded documentaries for cinema and television. Love, Theft and Other Entanglements (Al-Hob wa Al-Sariqa wa Mashakel Ukhra) is Alayan’s debut feature film and had its world premiere at the Panorama section of the 65th Berlin Film Festival.
Mousa (Sami Metwasi) is a Palestinian small-time car thief. He makes his living by selling parts of Israeli stolen cars and he is trying to gather money in order to buy an exit visa. He is also in love with Manal (Maya Abu Alhayyat), a married woman, and he hopes that she will flee with him in Europe. Unfortunately, one day, Mousa runs of luck. He steals the wrong car, which actually belongs to Palestinians, and he finds in the trunk a kidnapped Israeli soldier (Riyad Sliman). Now he must solve all his problems and deal with Palestinian paramilitaries and Israeli police.
Mousa’s story could not be limited in the strict borders of Palestinian territories but this geographical limitation enhances his character. He is a classic loser in every possible way, socially, emotionally, financially and professionally. He represents an archetypical model of simple anti-hero who tries to do the right thing even when everything falls down and this is the price that he has to pay. Certainly he is not innocent and his acts are not positively justified but in reality Mousa just wants a simple happy life with the woman he loves and away from any trouble. Unfortunately for him, he is trapped in a life that he never chose and it is more than clear that he doesn’t fit there. At the same time, each decision that he makes proves that he is incapable to change his destiny. Alayan doesn’t try to victimize his hero just because he was born Palestinian but obviously the lives of many of his fellow compatriots could also be projected through Mousa’s journey.
What is quite interesting in Love, Theft and Other Entanglements, is that Alayan doesn’t try to be didactic or to present his facts in a sterile and severe way. Instead of that, he is trying to combine and mix different genres and styles. Apparently the almost strict black and white cinematography that could theoretically only fit to a chamber drama breaks by the use of strong elements of comedy, romance and of course thriller. This amalgamation changes the initial stereotypical effect and fits quite perfectly in the film’s storyline. Furthermore this marginal balance among these different genres could probably seem familiar to the connoisseurs of Palestinian cinema. The almost deadpan comic situations reminiscent Elia Suleiman’s early works – Divine Intervention (2002) – while the thriller part could have some resemblances with Hany Abu-Assad’s – Omar (2013) – favorite themes. Certainly Alayan’s work doesn’t lack originality, but inevitably the Palestinian cinema has some profound common grounds in every possible level.
Love, Theft and Other Entanglements is a simple film. Without any needless perplexing elements, the story of a simple man is depicted through essential shots in basic settings and with the necessary facts. This almost minimalistic simplicity that Alayan chose, works in favor of the film as the viewer focuses on the feelings and the true honest person that is hidden behind Mousa’s persona. Hopefully the viewer could also find some traces of his own personality there too.