Captain Abu Raed
Review by gloria wong
Raed is an isolated man who only leaves his small apartment’s safe cocoon of books to drink tea on his terrace or to go to work as a janitor at the airport. When a neighbour’s abuse of his wife makes it difficult for Raed to sleep one night, he literally shuts the window. One day, he finds an old pilot’s hat buried in the airport trash. Deciding to wear it home sets off a course of events that will eventually strip away every one of the old man’s carefully guarded barriers.
The widower begins to connect with the outside world when he becomes a hero in the eyes of the children of his neighbourhood in the outskirts of Amman, Jordan. Raed’s intelligence and gift for storytelling inspire them to imagine the world outside their impoverished lives, to hope for more than a future of selling candy bars in the park. Eventually and predictably, what begins as a harmless indulgence leads to actual friendships and dramatic changes in everyone’s lives.
In many ways,Captain Abu Raed treads familiar narrative territory. The character who helps to make the film feel like a story of Jordan is an airplane pilot who strikes up an unusual friendship with Raed. Nour is gorgeous, obviously successful, intelligent but, most unfortunately in the eyes of her friends and family, still not married – and in her thirties! Not only is their relationship a refreshing change of pace but the character allows the filmmaker to add depth to the film itself. The stark contrast between Nour’s affluent, highly Westernized lifestyle (like many members of the middle and upper classes of Jordan, she speaks English and French in addition to Arabic) and the depressing poverty and repressive values that are crushing the young children of Raed’s neighbourhood, becomes a clear commentary on the tensions within modern day Jordan. Though the film’s soundtrack verges on melodrama, Captain Abu Raed is a well-made, well-acted piece of social realism - especially notable since the children in the film are mostly first-time actors cast from Jordan orphanages.
Captain Abu Raed
Amin Matalqa | Jordan/USA | 2007 | 110min
Thur. Sept. 25 | 4:00pm | Empire Granville, Theatre 2
Sun. Sept. 28 | 1:00pm | Ridge
Mon. Sept. 29 | 6:30pm | Empire Granville, Theatre 3
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