2014-08-22 08:56 KST  
  RSS
Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
JapanFocus
'Amreeka' Disappoints
A Palestinian mother and son move to the U.S. after 9/11
Howard Schumann (howard16)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2009-11-13 15:14 (KST)   
Howard Schumann rates "Amreeka" a C.  <Editor's Note>
Amreeka (the Arabic word for America) is a humorous and warm-hearted first feature from Cherien Dabis that follows a Palestinian woman, Muna (Nisreen Faour) and her sixteen-year-old son, Fadi (Melkar Muallem) from the checkpoints of the West Bank to the checkmates of racial animosity in a small town in Illinois near Chicago.

Set in 2003 at the start of the Iraq War, Muna leaves Bethlehem because she desires a better life for her son and can no longer put up with overbearing Israeli police, the harangues of her elderly mother, and reminders of her philandering ex-husband. The opening sequence in which Muna is ecstatic about receiving her Green Card in the mail and says tearful goodbyes to her family on her way to America joyously captures the closeness of family and their caring for each other in a lighthearted manner.

  TODAY'S TOP STORIES
OMNI's New Approach to Citizen Journalism
[Opinion] Democracy's Downfall
Technology Can Save Money, Planet
[Opinion] Iran Defends Peaceful 'Right'
Couchsurfing in Gaza
  FROM THE SECTION
'Ballast' Doesn't Point Way
[DVD Review] 'P' Sincere But Ponderous
Julie & Julia
'Precious' Chronicles Abuse Society Misses
'Fantastic Mr. Fox' Learns Value Of Family, Community
Unfortunately in the rest of the film things do not go as well for the young family. They have to deal with numerous incidents of overt and covert racism including bullying at school as they try to adjust to a new home and a new country.

Things start off badly when Muna and Fadi are harassed for three hours at the airport by Israeli customs and a tin box filled with cookies and all of their savings are handed over by Fadi to customs officials. Fadi does not say anything to his mother about this (a most unlikely circumstance) and the loss is only discovered after the two arrive at the home of relatives in Illinois. From there, things go steadily south.

Muna tries to get a job in her profession in a bank but is rejected by employers who look at all Arabs as potential terrorists. She ends up working at a burger restaurant, and conceals her employment from relatives - pretending to work at a bank close to the restaurant. Her shame is apparent.

Meanwhile Fadi is tormented by school bullies who call him Osama and her relatives begin to bicker over their increased expenses at the time when the family breadwinner, a physician (Yussef Abu Warda), is losing clients because of his Arab appearance.

While people need to be reminded of the hurt of racism and the Arabs contribution to the world, Amreeka offers one contrived subplot after another in which Americans are caricatures of either hate-filled racists or Christ-like saviors like Mr. Novatski (Joseph Ziegler), Fadi's principal (who happens to be Jewish).

What could have been an excellent opportunity to explore the problems of assimilation or the treatment of minorities instead becomes a litany of cliches.

There is no mention of 9-11, issues involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the problem of bullying in schools, and the possibility of involving teachers, school officials, or even the neighborhood church in helping the immigrant family to cope are not examined.

While "Amreeka" has moments of charm and likeability and the performances are excellent, the exercise quickly becomes a big screen version of "As the World Turns", doomed by an overly simplistic approach in which victimization substitutes for cooperation in finding solutions.
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Howard Schumann

Add to :  Add to Del.icio.usDel.icio.us |  Add to Digg this Digg  |  Add to reddit reddit |  Add to Y! MyWeb Y! MyWeb

Ronda Hauben
 
Netizens Question Cause of Cheonan Tragedy
Michael Werbowski
 
[Opinion] Democracy's Downfall
Michael Solis
 
Arizona's Immigration Bill and Korea
Yehonathan Tommer
 
Assassination in Dubai
[ESL/EFL Podcast] Saying No
Seventeenth in a series of English language lessons from Jennifer Lebedev...
  [ESL/EFL] Talking About Change
  [ESL/ EFL Podcast] Personal Finances
  [ESL/EFL] Buying and Selling
How worried are you about the H1N1 influenza virus?
  Very worried
  Somewhat worried
  Not yet
  Not at all
    * Vote to see the result.   
KOREA WORLD SCI&TECH ART&LIFE ENTERTAINMENT SPORTS GLOBAL WATCH INTERVIEWS PODCASTS
  copyright 1999 - 2014 ohmynews all rights reserved. internews@ohmynews.com Tel:+82-2-733-5505,5595(ext.125) Fax:+82-2-733-5011,5077