Review: Let it Be Morning

Written and directed by Eran Kolirin, a gently satirical tale of a man and his family trapped by military blockade inside a tiny Arab village in Israel. Starring: Alex Bakri, Juna Suleiman, Salim Daw, Ehab Salami, Khalifa Natour, Samer Bisharat and Yara Elham Jarrar.

Taking a relatively serious topic of oppression and prejudice and turning it into a satirically edged drama with a sense of humour is no easy task but Eran Kolirin does it well, adapting from Sayed Kashua’s novel. It creates a perfectly balanced tone which doesn’t undercut the poignant nature of the story while embracing its outlandish nature and blending them to bring out the truly human side. Dipping into the flawed nature of people, from greed to pride to desire, and part of the reason why it works so well is mixing together a varied and captivating group of personalities. It also manages to tap into a great amount of emotion, though the pacing can be a touch slow. The story works well, it’s just a shame not to see some of the threads pulled harder to be more satisfying.

A big part of the charm of Let it Be Morning comes from the performances, there’s a great ensemble at work and they all have something different to add. Alex Bakri leads the charge with confidence and presence, he brings the combination of being a little bit selfish and arrogant but not enough to stop him from being hugely likable. His flaws are what makes him an interesting character and Bakri brings those out with somehow a smooth and bumbling energy. One of the surprises here is the supporting performance from Ehab Salami, it’s one that keenly reflects the nature of the film. He begins on more comical footing, there’s a lovable desperation to him but as we see him open up, he reveals a bigger depth and capability which provide some sincere highlights for the film. Juna Suleiman similarly has some surprises to add, bringing a very overt personality and continually trying to find ways to expend her energy in such a claustrophobic environment.

Visually and tonally it does a good job of matching that balanced energy. The palette and shot choices feel more on the dramatic side, while it adds in some movement with the editing work which leans into the comedic and satirical touches. The score also helps to maintain that balance, enhancing the emotional side as well as holding a lightness. The cinematography is a key part of how the film holds its sincerity, the quality and texture of the aesthetic hold onto something more grounded and real.

Let it Be Morning holds both genuine emotion and a great sense of humour. While there is a larger political story at the basis of the film which isn’t entirely explored, the story is still captivating. It dips its toes into the political ramifications while remaining focused on its characters and their flaws. There’s a superb ensemble cast, Alex Bakri leads with charm while Ehab Salami and Juna Suleiman provide terrific support with unexpected roles.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

In theaters from February 3

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