by Jürgen Fauth
Elia Suleiman's "Divine Intervention" is a very personal meditation on love, life, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film opens in Nazareth, the city of Suleiman's birth, where we see a gang of children chasing down Santa Claus only to stab him to death. In turn laconic, witty, and outrageous, Suleiman works in slow, poetic scenes that build to hilarious climaxes.
As he moves to Jerusalem and falls in love with a woman played by Manal Khader, quiet scenes at a checkpoint alternate with outrageous fantasies brought to computer-generated life, including the adventures of a balloon adorned with the face of Arafat over Jerusalem airspace and a hysterical revenge fantasy featuring a Palestinian ninja with Matrix-like super powers.
At the NYFF press conference, Suleiman explained that he develops his
films from the ground up, from journals and impressions, without an agenda
or an overarching political message. Emptiness and silences allow him
to open up the images for a multiplicity of meanings. "Divine Intervention"'s
reflective and playful nature and its altogether personal point of view--the
filmmaker casts his mother and copes with his father's death--seem like
a perfect antidote for the all too real madness it addresses only indirectly.
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