Thursday, January 15, 2015

Film Notes: The Band's Visit

The Band's Visit is a touching, hilarious yet melancholy film which charts the visit of eight Egyptian musicians of the "Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra" (no less), to Israel. The purpose of their visit is to play for the opening ceremony of an Arab Cultural Centre somewhere in Israel - but the band take the wrong bus and end up marooned in a dead-end town, in land where they are clearly ill at ease.

Having no choice but to accept the hospitality of the local people the audience are invited to watch as the band and their hosts discover the warmth of various aspects of their shared humanity. While some characters remain aloof, the central protagonists meet in the common ground of love, food, families bereavement, sex, music, hopes, fears and regrets. While such a description could be indicative of a dull and ponderous film - or a preachy-epic, The Band's Visit is playful, delicate, and a riot of visual and comic timing. The film is beautiful to watch too, with wide vistas and silences reminiscent of No Country for Old Men, although that is where the similarities end.

This remarkably short film is delightful, surprising and lovely.

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