Let It Be Morning

Sami (Alex Bakri), his old friend Abed (Ehab Salami) tells him, is highly respected in his old hometown, where he’s attending the wedding of his younger brother Aziz (Samer Bisharat, "Omar") with his wife Mira (the alluring Juna Suleiman) and son Adam (Maruan Hamdan).  But the feeling isn’t mutual, Sami chomping at the bit to ditch his family and return to Jerusalem and his Jewish mistress.  Leaving, though, will be out of the question as the Israeli army has mysteriously blockaded the town.  Cut off from his envied life, Sami is forced to look inward in “Let It Be Morning.”

Laura's Review: B

Israel’s submission for the 2021/2022 International Oscar is from “The Band’s Visit” writer/director Eran Kolirin and while it is also largely focused on Palestinian/Israeli relations, this time around it is a surprising pick by Israel (Kolirin himself called the film ‘career suicide’ in an interview with the Times of Israel).  But while the film doesn’t paint its submitting country in a good light, it is also quite critical of Palestinian society, depicted here as exploiting its own less fortunate as well as collaborating with their oppressors for personal gain. 

Kolirin begins by plunging us into the chaos of a family wedding held at what Sami’s father, Tarek (Salim Daw), is turning into a family complex.  As kids run in and out of the kitchen where their grandma Zahara (Izabel Ramadan) continues to turn out platters of food, they will hear her refer to the illegal West Bank worker and his son who are building out a new (and unwanted) second home for Sami with the slur dafawnii.  Sami, slinking off to call his mistress, will run into Mohammed (Khalifa Natour) living in the unfinished structure.   He’ll treat the laborer with more respect than his old friend Abed, who he’ll condescend to when the man expresses excitement over his purchase of a taxi.

The situation of the denizens in this town will be humorously symbolized when the wedding party gathers for the emcee to ceremoniously free white doves which all stubbornly refuse to leave their cage.  Days later, the Israelis compounding the road blockage by cutting off cell phone service, electricity and water, Mira will still be chasing the doves around the family courtyard, demanding that they fly away.

Indeed, when a deflated Sami returns to the family home with his wife and sleeping child in tow, he will find Aziz still downstairs, apparently avoiding his new wife, Lina (Yara Elham Jarrar, TV's 'Ramy'), who ‘might want something.’  When Sami of the important IT job in Jerusalem is finally able to make a call, we witness him have to explain just who he is to his boss before learning he’s been fired for failing to give a presentation that Monday.  He’ll end up spending quite a bit of time driving around in Abed’s taxi, firing the man up with talk of resisting the Israelis, who, rumor has it, have hemmed the town in in search of West Bank laborers with no Israeli ID.   But after a heartfelt conversation with Mira, who knows more about Sami than he’d realized, Sami will not only come to appreciate what he has (‘Did you know my wife was a gracious woman?’) but see the purity of Abed’s quest to win his wife back.

The film features many striking moments, a standout watching Mira dance to The Dead Weather's 'I Cut Like a Buffalo' as her mother-in-law gazes down upon her (Sami and Abed get down with Sia’s “Chandelier” in the cab).  We see humiliation in a battle over depleting canned goods, freedom in a family trip to fly a kite.  Sami’s own brother-in-law Nabil (Doraid Liddawi) kowtows to the collaborating council, whose Ashraf (Nadib Spadi) torments Abed for payment for his taxi.  The film takes turns both tragic and bittersweet as all these passions come to a climax, the sacrificial lamb never in doubt, Sami left a humbler and happier man.  “Let It Be Morning” may not enjoy the success of the crowd pleasing “Band’s Visit,” but it is the more thought-provoking film.

Robin's Review: B-

Cohen Media Group releases "Let It Be Morning" in select theaters on 2/10/23.