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Free Zone (2006)

Hana Laszlo , Hiam Abbas , Amos Gitai  |  NR |  DVD
2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Hana Laszlo, Hiam Abbas, Natalie Portman
  • Directors: Amos Gitai
  • Writers: Amos Gitai, Marie-Jose Sanselme
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Arabic, English, Hebrew, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: May 29, 2007
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000O77LZ6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,617 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Free Zone" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee Natalie Portman (Closer, V for Vendetta) stars as Rebecca, an American living in Jerusalem who moments after breaking off her engagement, jumps into a cab driven by Hanna, a strong-willed, charismatic Israeli woman. Hanna is on her way to Jordan, to an ungoverned economic free zone of shady business transactions bordered by Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Looking for a quick "escape", Rebecca convinces Hanna to take her along and the two set off to see "the American," a mysterious businessman that owes Hanna's husband money. But when Hanna and Rebecca reach his office, they are confronted by Leila, a Palestinian who tells Hanna that "the American" and the money are missing.

Determined not to leave the Free Zone without her husband's debt paid, Hanna forces Leila to join her - with Rebecca tagging along - and the three woman begin their search. Soon the relationship between them turns into an emotional solidarity that will affect each of their lives forever.

An ambitious film with both political and emotional agendas, Free Zone stars Natalie Portman as an American woman living in Jerusalem whose quest for adventure and escape leads to serious consequences. Rebecca (Portman), newlyt broken up with her fiancé, has a chance encounter with a cab driver named Hanna (played by Hanna Laslo, who won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her work in this film) finds Rebecca accompanying her to the Free Zone--a tax-free area in northeast Jordan--so Hanna can collect money from a businessman who owes her husband. Instead of finding the businessman, they encounter a mysterious Palestinian woman who joins them on their journey. It would be too easy to write this film off as a politically tinged Thelma & Louise. As the women argue about Israeli-Palestinian issues, we sense that there is imminent danger. And that suspense ultimately carries more impact than the dialogue, which is well intentioned but often misguided. Portman is gorgeous and does a fine job emoting (and crying), but this is really Laslo's movie. Appropriately passionate and stoic, she adds dignity (and at times humor) to a film that is thought provoking, but flawed. --Jae-Ha Kim

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for anyone in a hurry February 20, 2011
I've been on a run of great movies out of Israel (more on that later), and as a result of Amazon's helpful feature "if you liked this, we might recommend that to you", I fell upon this movie.

"Free Zone" (93 min.; originally released in 2005) is at its most basic, an unconventional road movie. Rebecca (Natalie Portman) has just broken up with her finace and is in a cab to get away from it all. The initial 7-8 minutes of the movie is just a close-up of Portman, clearly in distress trying to cope with the break-up (while credits are rolling and "Had Gadia", a traditionak Passover song, is playing. It is one of the most amazing openings of a movie I have seen in a long time. The cab driver is Hanna (played by Hanna Laslo), and as it turns out, Hanna needs to go to the Free Zone near the Jordan-Israeli border to collect some money that is owed to her husband. In the Free Zone, they meet up with Laila (Hiam Abbas), who is the contact person for collecting the money. You'll have to see for yourself how it all plays out. This is a slow-moving film, which is fine by me but not for anyone in a hurry. I thought Natalie Portman gave another outstanding performance. Hanna Laslo won Best Actress award at the 2005 Canned Film Festival, where this movie made quite a splash.

As already mentioned, I've had the good fortune of catching a number of really engaging movies out of Israel the last couple of months, including Lemon Tree, Or My Treasure, For My Father, Seven Minutes in Heaven, and of course last Fall's theatrical release Lebanon. I can now add "Free Zone" to that list of "recommended" movies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating pictures and athmosphere August 22, 2013
By J.Roe
This movie for sure is not suitable for everyone but I like it cause it gave me the feeling, without knowing Israel or Jordan , that it took me into the mood of this location and the people there.
The landscapes and locations shown are impressive and oppressive and in my eyes not really beautiful.
The pictures come over quite experimental as well as the very reduced plot.
The first scene with Natalie crying is downright err... special but in connection with this song Had Ghadia by Chava Alberstein which I liked most with French subtitles it is like a wonderful figurehead for the whole movie. And I think its supposed to be.
The cast as I see it is extraordinary good and all three women contribute to this movie in a way you can't do better.
I bought this DVD (used, OmU with german subtitles,rare but nevertheless cheap) because I want to see every movie Natalie was in.
That doesn't mean that I will give five stars for all of her movies... definitely not! There are several which I don't like or where I ask myself: Why did she sign to that ?

This movie however (watched in original English/Hebrew) did impress me very much in a positive way without me being able to explain that precisely. It comes from the heart... Somehow I tend to believe that I understand why Natalie signed for this one...
Ok I admit it, I adore her...

Sadly my special rare copy with German subtitles came without any additional material and without any booklet in the box.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This 2006 Israeli film certainly has good acting. It stars Natalie Portman as an American in Israel who has just broken up with her fiancé. She's in a cab and crying a lot. The cab driver, an Israeli woman played by Hanna Lesko, is on her way to Jordon to recover a debt owed her husband. The American woman convinces Hanna to take her along. Hanna's quite a strong personality and as the two women go into Jordon, we get a chance to see the way of life - the checkpoints, the distrust, the dry and unforgiving landscape. Eventually they meet Hiam Abbass, a Jordanian woman who works for the man who owes Hanna's husband $30,000. None of these women trust each other but eventually they bond.

Basically it is a film about the clash of cultures and the hardships on both the Israelis and the Jordanians. I think the film paints a good picture of life in these countries. The acting is excellent too. But the story is so confused that it is hard to follow the plot and I actually revisited some parts of this film in order to figure out what was happening. I never did figure it out. Sorry, but I just can't recommend it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Free Zone Review July 22, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am a huge Natalie Portman fan but I could not get into this movie. The most annoying part is when they overlap two, sometimes three transparent scenes at one time making it difficult to even look at. It hurt my eyes. The opening scene where Natalie Portman is crying seemed overly forced, unnatural, and unnecessary. Additionally, I love watching movies with subtitles. The only part that is subtitled is when they are speaking a different language. I am glad that I bought it, but I will probably not watch it again.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Highly disappointed September 30, 2012
By leybos
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
This movie was poor in acting (except for Natalie, she was brilliant as always) and quality. It didn't seem to have any real plot or any depth what-so-ever. Just save yourself the disappointment and stay away from this movie. =P
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