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Review: Captain Abu Raed

Funny and touching
By PETER KEOUGH  |  August 27, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars


A janitor (Nadim Sawalha) at the airport in Amman, Jordan, comes across a cap misplaced by a flight crewman and takes it home. Devoid of any diversion except imaginary tea parties with his deceased wife, the weary old coot dons the hat and becomes Captain Abu Raed, a much-traveled airline pilot who spins tales of his adventures for the waifish neighborhood kids.

But what of Murad (Hussein Al-Sous), the tough little punk who insists on blowing the Captain's cover? First-time director Amin Matalqa forgoes the treacly old-man/cute-kid formula in favor of tougher material: Murad's brutally abusive father and, by extension, the atavistic patriarchal tyranny still alive in Jordanian society.

Boosted by a funny and touching performance by Sawalha in the title role and featuring the cinematically untouched beauty of the ancient city, Matalqa's film shows how the most liberating flights might be those of the imagination.

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