Without Money or Power
through much of the movie is Omar, a 19-year-old Palestinian in trouble. His
uncle shot down a Bedouin who tried to rob his café; the Bedouin clan shot the
uncle on the streets and marked the entire family for revenge killings. In
hiding and with no father present, Omar becomes the family “elder” and
negotiates with a fixer who pleads their case before a tribal judge. With the
mercy of the Koran as his precedent, the judge imposes a relatively modest fine
on Omar’s family; yet modest or not, Omar has no money. His mother soon goes
into the hospital for surgery they cannot afford.
From there Ajami digresses onto the parallel tracks
of various Palestinians and Jews. Their lives have all been bruised by the
strife and—in such close proximity—seem destined to cross. Omar and his younger
brothers resort to petty crime to raise money, gain illegal employment in Israel and
finally turn to selling drugs. Filmed in vérité
style with actors who seem untrained but fully engaged, Ajami depicts Palestine
as a cauldron of resentment and even hatred, aggravated by lack of money or
power to change things.
4:15 p.m. Sept. 26, Oriental Theatre; 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28, North Shore Cinema; 9 p.m. Oct. 2, Ridge Cinema.