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Rana's Wedding

My Frightening Rushed Palestinian Roadblock Wedding

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By Jürgen Fauth

Rana's Wedding

Clara Khoury as Rana

Like the 1999 German hit "Run Lola Run," the new movie by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad opens with an ultimatum and a plucky heroine alone in her room, wondering which way to turn. Both films feature menacing dogs, lost plastic bags, and an aimless, poorly shaved lover.

But that's where the similarities end, because contemporary Berlin is a happier place than Jerusalem in 2003. For one thing, Tom Tykwer's redhead Lola didn't have to deal with roadblocks, trigger-happy soldiers, and bomb squads. For another, Lola was fiercely self-determined, while Rana (Clara Khoury) has to contend not only with political oppression but the dominating role men are assigned in her culture.

And by men, I mean Rana's father, who presents her with the choice to either come to live with him in Egypt or marry one of a list of acceptable suitors he picked for her. She has until 4pm to decide--but Rana has other plans. She races across the city to find her lover Khalil (Kahlifa Natour) and marry him before her father's ultimatum runs out.

Like that man lost in yet another embattled city, Leopold Bloom, Rana's odyssey takes her past an encyclopedic view of her world: funeral processions, omnipresent security cameras, demolitions, uzis, and the humiliations of dealing with a hostile bureaucracy.

Before Rana can have her scary, rushed Palestinian wedding (a ceremony that involves the bride only as a spectator while the men shake hands over the dowry) she has to overcome fear, doubt, and literal as well as metaphorical barriers.

Director Abu-Assad focuses closely on Rana's subjective reality and pays equal attention to mud on her shoe and the skirmishes between soldiers and rock-throwing children.

"Rana's Wedding" is vibrant filmmaking that manages to deliver pertinent news about life under occupation. It is a welcome lesson in how the private and the political intersect to the point where they become indistinguishable.

The film, which was the opening feature at this year's International Human Rights Watch Film Festival and which also played at Cannes and other major global festivals, opens at Cinema Village in New York on August 22.

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