Review: 200 Meters

Written and directed by Ameen Nayfeh, a Palestinian father trapped on the other side of the separation wall is trying to reach the hospital for his son. Starring: Ali Suliman, Anna Unterberger, Lana Zreik, Gassan Abbas, Nabil Al Raee, Motaz Malhees, Mahmoud Abu Eita and Samia Bakri Qazmuz.

One of the things that this film will undoubtedly do is make you realise how easy so many people have it in comparison, the bureaucratic and political nightmares that Mustafa (Suliman) has to go through to simply work and care for his family are appropriately exhausting. The two things that it establishes quickly are how sweet and loving of a relationship that Mustafa has with his family and how cruel life can be in countries of conflict, elements that both enhance one another. Every element of the film is anchored by Suliman’s performance, he brings an impressive amount of qualities to Mustafa: strength, kindness, intelligence, highly observant and incredibly practical. His performance keenly captures the urgency and tension of the story but in fact, he perhaps captures that more than the story itself can.

While the film initially builds that suspense in Mustafa’s struggle to reach the hospital currently caring for his sick child, it feels as though somewhere along the way it loses its focus and starts to forget the bigger picture. The intensity that it builds with its more confrontational scenes is solid but it’s simply not enough to create the more gripping atmosphere that it’s trying to conjure up. It’s something that’s hindered by its story progression, it starts off well but somewhere in the middle starts to slow down and doesn’t push itself enough to reach its goal or give itself enough time once it does get there. It’s a shame as the meaning is there and its choice of vehicle to explore this ingrained conflict is new and interesting but without the stronger emotional tones and intensity, it can’t quite reach its potential.

For the most part it’s visually very well done, it’s unfortunate that there are a couple of jarring edits and shots that feel solely intended to add style rather than substance but there is still a strong directorial style overall. For a feature debut with such a complex subject, it’s an impressive outing, you can see what it’s going for and despite its flaws it does still achieve a high degree of what it’s aiming for.

200 Meters unfortunately lacks the conviction to really bring this story to life, it has some great moments of tension and conflict but it forgets to keep its eye on the bigger picture. However, Ali Suliman gives a flawless performance as Mustafa, there’s a very uniquely mysterious quality to him that keeps a compelling edge throughout. There’s certainly a huge amount of talent at work here but sadly, not every piece of the puzzle fits together perfectly.

Verdict: ✯✯✯

Selected as part of London Film Festival’s ‘Debate’ strand

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