It’s a crowded movie weekend here in the Valley for those looking for something more challenging than One Direction: This Is Us.
At Harkins Shea is Inch’Allah, a drama from last year about Chloe (Evelyne Brochu), a young French-Canadian Doctor working for the Red Crescent in Palestine. Chloe lives in Jerusalem but crosses over every day to a West Bank clinic to care for young Palestinian mothers. She gets caught between her loyalty to her Israeli friend Ava (Sivan Levy), a soldier who works the checkpoint, and her pregnant Palestinian friend Rand (Sabrina Ouazani).
These three actresses—but especially the alert, open-eyed Brochu—are simply about as good as it gets. Their performances are so free of mannerism that we could almost be watching a documentary, yet they also give us subtle, textured characterization and high drama. They’re superb, and writer-director Anais Barbeau-Lavalette brings off both intimate and near-epic effects with equal finesse.
But I won’t mislead you—Inch’Allah (or “God Willing”) is a tough sell. It makes the intransigent spite and fury of the conflict horrifyingly coherent. It shows us children dying, three in all, none graphically but all three with an overwhelming, soul-crushing sense of catastrophe. And despite the title it offers no particular hope for the future, and certainly no hope that some well-intentioned foreigner can help the situation. It’s that rarity in modern movies—a full-on, maddening, heartbreaking tragedy, extremely well-done. Consider yourself warned.
Meanwhile, over at Harkins Camelview is Short Term 12, an American indie drama set in a foster care home. I missed the screening on this one, but it looks less depressing than Inch’allah, anyway.