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VOD Review: Gaza Mon Amour

November 9, 2021

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

A slice-of-life film set in the Gaza Strip, Gaza Mon Amour is a low-key romantic dramedy written and directed by Palestinian brothers Arab and Tarzan Nasser, that finds moments of love and laughter amidst the despair of its setting.

Isaa (Salim Daw) is a 60-year-old fisherman who never married, and spends his days selling his meagre catch at the market. Siham (Hiam Abbass) is a seamstress who runs a shop in the same local market, selling women’s clothing and doing alterations.

Siham is a widow with an adult daughter, Leila (Maisa Abd Elhadi), who has just gotten divorced, and Isaa has a sister, Manal (Manal Awad), who encourages him to get married, though would rather he pick from the women that she chooses for him.

But Isaa has his heart set on Siham, whom he often encounters at the bus stop, with his opening being a sincere request for her to shorten a pair of his trousers. While she doesn’t normally touch men’s clothing, she reluctantly agrees to take them in, and from here Gaza Mon Amour blossoms into a very tender back and forth between the two older characters.

The Nasser brothers address the realities of living in modern Gaza in a matter of fact way, with the rolling power outages having become such an expected part of daily life that the characters talk about them with the sort of grinding annoyance usually reserved for more manageable inconveniences. While the love story itself is not really political, the filmmakers allow reality to creep in, from the interference of armed soldiers to news reports about Hamas that are heard in the background.

There is a satirical, almost absurdist edge to the film’s brand of humour, most notably in a subplot involving a naked, well-endowed statue of Apollo that Isaa pulls out of the sea, which soon becomes more trouble than it is worth. But Gaza Mon Amour is kept grounded by the heartfelt sense of longing between the two characters at its centre. It’s a charming and bittersweet film that effectively captures some of the day to day realities of living in the Gaza Strip, and how life goes on despite the situation around them.

Gaza Mon Amour is now available on a variety of Digital and VOD platforms. It’s being distributed in Canada by Vortex Media.

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