9/30/2008

Strangers







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Although if asked honestly, most of us share a preference of dating within our party lines, in America, we frequently express that it’s best to keep politics out of love. However, the discovery of a true romance seldom goes according to plan. And imagine how much tougher courtship becomes when in the Sundance hit Strangers when the man and woman who find they’re becoming increasingly drawn to one another are Israeli and Palestinian respectively.

Beginning with a typical “meet cute,” classic romantic comedy set-up, World Cup tourists Eyal and Rana first catch each other’s eye sitting opposite one another aboard a Berlin train. After mistakenly leaving with their opposite yet identical rucksacks and phoning to arrange a swap, the two strangers find themselves stranded in the overly-crowded city and find unlikely shelter in a large apartment upon learning that all hotels are booked. Despite a few tense moments and awkward jokes, they manage to form a bond despite their differences and soon slide rather naturally from friendship to romance amidst the celebrating city.

Although unlike the admittedly na├»ve characters in Richard Linklater’s similarly plotted Generation X classic Before Sunrise, the problems Eyal and Rana face are global in scale. Ultimately, following their separation in Berlin after a night of young passion, the two must come to terms with how their experiences, family duties and ethnicity will impact any chance of a future when Eyal forgoes Rana’s wish and heads to Paris to reunite with his beguiling new love. This becomes especially complicated when a second Israel-Lebanon war begins.

Hopefully optimistic, surprisingly touching and exuberantly photographed with earnest portrayals by its young leads, the fast-paced film admirably avoids the predictable tragedy one would fear. And along the way it should manage to inspire even the most politically cynical audience members that perhaps it isn’t too late to remember the old 60’s slogan to “make love, not war.”