Be Quiet [subtitled]

Be Quiet

Be Quiet is a wonderful little film. Intense, powerful, thought-provoking.

It depicts a small slice of the lethal danger and petty indignities of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. As such it’s the kind of thing virtually no one will be able to watch with an open mind, since most folks who’ve considered Arab-Israeli conflicts at all have an intense emotional commitment to their view of one side as victims struggling in self-defense and the other side as pure evil.

The film is about a father and child–excellent, very believable performances by both, by the way. There is a truly ominous feel to watching events unfold, because the child behaves as children do, i.e., he has not yet internalized the do’s and don’ts of how to speak and behave so as to survive in their social/political/military context (think African American child in the Jim Crow South), and so he innocently and routinely puts himself and his father in peril. My heart went out to the father—who has learned how to play the games, make the compromises, humble himself to authority—faced with the task of keeping this beautiful child safe from forces he as yet has no comprehension of.

One thing I wasn’t pleased with about the film is the abrupt ending. And when I say “abrupt,” I mean if there hadn’t been credits at that point, I’d have been sure something went wrong with the transmission of the film and it had somehow broken off in the middle. Maybe artistically there’s something to be said for such a jarring ending, but to me it felt like the filmmaker didn’t know what else to do with these characters and this situation to bring things to an emotionally and logically satisfying close, and so he just opted for this unconventional move of cutting it off without bothering with an ending.

Still, just a really good job of conveying the perpetually stressful emotional conditions of living in such an environment, and making one think about its impact on childhood and parenting.

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