‘The Kite’ is a little known Lebanese film that jumbles a tense political situation, sarcasm and believable characters around a young girl who is soon about to be married off. Lamia’s (Flavia Bechara) troubles start when she loses control of a kite she is flying and makes her way across the barbed wires and bordered fences that separate Lebanon from Israel to retrieve it from the Israeli side. Although she makes it safely back to her side of the village, her family, now alarmed that she is entering womanhood, decides the time is ripe for her to be wed off to her cousin Sami, who lives on the other side in Israel. Problems related to personal differences between family members, general incompatibility and social stigma are tackled during the short eighty minutes, but not without some heavy-handed symbolism and a perplexing end that causes much dissatisfaction.
To its advantage, the film manages to arrange itself around some genuinely interesting and likeable people. There is the love struck Israeli soldier who keeps watch of the two separated villages atop a watchtower on the border, his commanding officer who eloquently philosophizes about his young wards bewilderment and the various little children of the families, who talk the way most children would normally do. All of this is very pleasant to watch, not to mention surprising as well given how well the tale manages to be a mixture of comedy and true family portrait. The two kin on opposite sides communicate about everyday banalities and the preparation of marriage via loudspeakers. The couple-to-be first sees each other via family video footage, and the soldiers on the border watch in fascination and sometimes caution as the two sides hold their noisy talks.
Everything soon takes a turn for the worse, both within the movie and for audiences, when certain revelations are made that seem implausible and thinly weaved. At this late point, when the film can’t decide whether it’s a comedy or a tragedy, its start to drift off and delve into the use of imagery to make its point. Well directed with a keen eye for cultural fascination, well acted and certainly well received (it won an award at the Venice film festival), ‘The Kite’ is ultimately not for all tastes, especially those looking for more coherence in their viewing. Still, it remains a pleasantly surprising, if not overly satisfying movie watching experience that is worth a look for its more positive aspects.
- by Faizan Rashid [Rated 3 out of 5]