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Laila's Birthday

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Bursting with mordant wit and alive with urgent real-life dramatic energy, Rashid Masharawi s Laila s Birthday is a (fleet, dark urban comedy - New York Times) that (moves at a brisk clip, ticking incidents like a meter on overtime - Time Out New York). At eight o clock, it s Laila s birthday, okay? Palestinian judge turned cab driver Abu Laila s wife reminds her husband. But on his young daughter s birthday, like any day, Abu faces a nerve-wracking shift in a Ramallah yellow cab armed only with an ex-jurist s misplaced pride, a father s loyalty, and a sticker reminding passengers that smoking and carrying AK-47 s are prohibited. Rather than address politics or document holy war heroics and villainy, Laila s Birthday focuses on the toll that the unending Israeli-Palestinian conflict extracts from civilians clinging to both employment and a semblance of normal life amidst chaos and corruption, missile attacks and bursts of gunfire. (Part Tati, part Chaplin, part absurdist satire - Village Voice), Laila s Birthday finds surprising humor and remarkable humanity in the fares Abu plucks from the social freefall of a city upended by war, and in the unyielding and often misplaced belief in the rule of law to which its unlikely hero clings en route to a hoped-for family reunion.

Review

A fleet, dark urban comedy that registers outrage in glancing jabs of absurdist observation. --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Mohammad Bakri, Areen Omari, Nour Zoubi
  • Directors: Rashid Masharawi
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Arabic
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: KINO VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: January 5, 2010
  • Run Time: 71 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002RUNNI2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,894 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Laila's Birthday" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie follows Abu Laila, once a judge in Iraq and now a taxi driver (not by choice) in Palestine. He is an honorable man who is just a bit down on his luck and is trying to deal with all of the crap that life entails. All Abu wants to do is become a judge in Palestine, and get a gift and a cake for his daughter Laila's birthday. Instead he seems to be thwarted at every turn, from having to drive grieving widows to his car breaking down to having it decorated for a wedding he isn't part of. This movie shows a nice slice of daily life in Palestine, though it's a comedy and not a documentary, and only near the end does it really deal with Israel but it a completely normal way. I highly recommend it.
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Format: DVD
This film shows the enormous frustrations, disappointments, and overall soul-killing life in modern Palestine. It follows an educated ex-legal Judge who has returned to his town and, while waiting for appointment as a city official, is reduced to driving a taxi.

"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.
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Format: DVD
***1/2

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.
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Format: Amazon Video
If you want to see what it might be like to live in The Occupied Territories, where people carry on their lives as best they can....watch this. Laila's father was a judge in a previous Palestinian life but now he drives a taxi owned by his brother in law. Every day he goes to try and be reinstated as a judge. And then he does the best he can with the life of a taxi driver. His patience with the everyday knocks of life is endless. He just keeps trying and doing the best he can, though he does explode in one memorable rant to the universe. Laila is his beloved daughter. This is different from anything you will ever see on the "news".
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Format: Amazon Video
Laila's Birthday depicts a day in the life of a dad/judge/taxi driver/husband in occupied Palestine. It subtly shows what Palestinians have to endure on a daily basis. The best part is when this man grabs a mega phone and pours out his heart, his disgust of the system he lives under and against the cruel and unjust occupation. Just a simple story, beautifully acted. Two thumbs up!

For more information on the conditions of Palestinians, check out President Jimmy Carter's book
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid
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Format: DVD
A 10 year veteran of the Palestinian justice system, a former judge is relegated to driving a taxi as he waits, and waits, for his new appointment in an administration that can order new curtains in 24 hours yet takes forever to approve his new post. This movie chronicles one day, a day that also happens to be his daughter's birthday. The judge remains a judge, making sure that his passengers follow the rules (seat belts in the front seat, no smoking), refusing to give service to dangerous locations or to shady people. His frustrations continue to mount as he finds that he is unable to even find the time to get his daughter a present.

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!
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