THE SYRIAN BRIDE (Eran Riklis). 96 minutes. Opens Friday (August 5). Subtitled. For venues and times, see Movies, page 91. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Despite its title, Eran Riklis's provocative new film has less to do with the bride than with her deeply troubled family, whom Mona ( Clara Khoury ), will never be allowed to see after marrying. As a resident of Syria, Mona will be barred forever from her hometown, the Druze village of Magdal Shams in Isreal's Golan Heights.
Mona's ambitious sister, Amal (beautifully proud Hiam Abbass ), tries to be enthusiastic, even though her sister's wedding reminds her of her own disastrous choice and her need to escape the confines of a tradition that looks down on her modern pursuits of higher learning. Amal is also saddened for her father, Hammed ( Makram Khoury ), who can't walk his daughter to the border because of to his own political convictions.
An estranged brother lives with a family they've never met, and Mona's getting cold feet about her arranged marriage and agonizing over never being able to return to her beloved home.
Riklis, along with co-writer Suha Arraf , has made a film that poignantly examines life's boundaries, be they political, cultural, emotional or - in the case of the Middle East - real-life borders.
Whatever your own feelings or beliefs, it's hard not to be moved by the film's haunting, open-ended conclusion.