The Band’s Visit
The eight members of a struggling Egyptian police orchestra find themselves abandoned at an Israeli airport. They attempt to find their own way to their concert venue, become lost and end up stranded in an isolated, desolate dormitory town. With the help of some locals they spend the night in this depressing township and catch the bus out the next day.
This is the sort of quiet, slow art movie where nothing much happens. If you love high speed car chases, big explosions and obvious gags this isn’t the movie for you -although the male lead – veteran Egyptian actor – Sasson Gabai did play a role in Rambo III.
If on the other hand you appreciate gentle, wry humour, delicate exploration of relationships and performances rich with subtle nuance you’ll thoroughly enjoy The Band’s Visit. Many people obviously did. This 87 minute Israeli film – the first feature for 34 year old director Eran Kolirin – won over 20 awards and accolades which describe it as “immensely charming”, “warm and delightful’ “heartfelt and humane.”
While all the acting was excellent in a low key sort of way, the two leads Sasson Gabai and Ronit Elikabeth were outstanding. Gabai, with his expressive hound dog face, gives us a wonderfully layered performance gradually revealing the deep pain hidden beneath his carefully correct and conscientious exterior. In Elikabeth we have a tough and confident restaurant owner desperately longing for love and life in this dead end town.
The Band’s Visit is not political. There is no racial enmity between the Egyptian band and their Israeli hosts. There is a lot of awkward silence as strangers struggle to communicate in English which is not a first language for either group. But slowly there is a touching attempt at cross cultural connection and some wonderfully poignant moments where their shared humanity transcends their differences.
My favorite scene has to be the roller disco romance. I won’t spoil it for you but it’s an understated gem which pretty much goes for the film as a whole.
Reviewed by: Andrew Dallaston
Rating: M – Contains low level offensive language.
Released on: March 12th, 2009
Year of Original Release: 2007
Length (Minutes): 85
Media Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Languages: English, Arabic, Hebrew
Director: Kolirin, Eran