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Review: Amreeka

Cherien Dabis's feature debut is winning
By GERALD PEARY  |  September 23, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars


In the finely sketched beginning chapters of Arab-American writer/director Cherien Dabis's feature debut, we share the frustrating, claustrophobic life of our heroine, Munah Farah (Nisreen Faour), a secular, middle-class Arab woman living in Bethlehem. Her chubbiness is all the more frustrating because her husband has run away with a skinny youngster.

Her job in a nearby bank is intolerable: what with having to stop at hostile Israeli checkpoints, it takes her two hours to drive to work. No wonder she's thrilled to get an American green card and, with her teen son (Melkar Muallem), fly to Illinois to reside with her sister (Hiam Abbass) and her sister's doctor husband (Yussuf Abu-Warda). But it's just after the invasion of Iraq, and soon her extended family become the victims of anti-Arab prejudice, and the only job Munah can secure is slinging fast-food burgers.

The political ironies are obvious, and the American section is predictable, but Amreeka is winning all the same, because of the ensemble, and the humanism of its first-time filmmaker.

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  Topics: Reviews , Hiam Abbass, Hiam Abbass, Amreeka,  More more >
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