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Top Customer Reviews
"Abu Laila" has a wife and a seven year old daughter who's birthday celebration will happen in the evening of his "usual" day on the job. He drives through the city taking people places and witnessing their lives and their issues. He understands all too well the short-comings of the population and the whys and wherefores of the difficulties of their lives within the Israeli-occupied country.
It is not a polemic by any means; there is some sardonic humor and also a quite nice driving tour in a place where most of us, sadly, will never visit. Watch it for what you can learn about the place and the people.
With a running-time of just sixty-nine minutes, "Laila's Birthday" chronicles a day in the life of a Palestinian cab driver (a day that also happens to be his daughter's seventh birthday). Abu Laila is actually a former judge who, due to budget cuts, is now forced to drive a taxi, owned by his brother-in-law, to support his wife and child. The "plot" of the movie consists of little more than a series of deliberately undramatic and wryly humorous vignettes revolving around Abu and the cross section of humanity that passes through his cab that day. His passengers include a just-paroled ex-con, an amorous young couple looking for a place to be alone, a woman on her way to the cemetery and the hospital, and another woman whose husband has just been killed in a car bombing.
As conceived by writer/director Rashid Masharawi and embodied by the finely stoic and deadpan actor, Mohammed Bakri, Abu is remarkably reticent for a central character - one who rarely articulates his thoughts about the people and events taking place around him. Yet, one senses in the man an undercurrent of frustration arising from having to live in an occupied territory - the West Bank city of Ramallah - a frustration that Abu finally gives vent to in the closing moments of the story. Otherwise, the movie doesn't push its political points and doesn't go for grand dramatic gestures and themes. It merely observes daily life as this one man witnesses it, finding humor in some of the unlikeliest of places.
Despite the lack of drama in the situations themselves, there's something strangely hypnotic in Abu's continual cruising through the city and around the countryside, and in his interactions with the various people who come his way.
For more information on the conditions of Palestinians, check out President Jimmy Carter's book
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
I found this a fascinating film less for the plot and acting, and more for the vignettes of everyday life in Palestine. The views, colors, sounds, and people were descriptive of a place I will probably never visit. And I would like to have the judge and his family as my neighbor!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It caught me up in a world where Kafkaesque politics have seeped into every detail of life and to simply celebrate a child's birthday can take every ounce of ingenuity and resolve. Read morePublished 6 months ago by heliograph
Nice film. Interesting to see how the Palestinian's live.
Our hero refuses to give a cab ride to a guy carrying an AK-47. Read more
This is truth, and nothing extra. It is a beautifully painted story of a "typical" day in Ramallah that wisely captures humour of the absurd in such a way that Palestinians... Read morePublished 17 months ago by shiela
real good acted intelligent movie. this is no rag like most movies.Published 20 months ago by allgood
Chaplinesque hero, well performed. Trying hard to retain ethics and sanity in the midst of utter chaos.Published on July 21, 2014 by Amazon Customer