A Borrowed Identity Screen 8 articles

A Borrowed Identity

2014

A Borrowed Identity Poster
  • Social satire and slightly implausible drama are never quite separate here, but there’s something cynical about shifting toward the latter. A character wets himself onscreen, evidently to unstopper tearducts in the audience; meanwhile, Michael Wiesweg’s dryly vivid cinematography is too decorous to let human mess into the frame. From this precisely polite distance, distortions look mimetic; everything flattens.

  • The stitches resultant from sewing two books together still show a little in the film’s uneven tone, but journeyman Riklis (The Syrian Bride, Lemon Tree) manages a more-than-usually engaging pop drama thanks to a breakout performance by Barhom, whose talent merits more than the IMDb page full of “Islamist” and “Terrorist #2” usually reserved for Arab actors.

  • With its assorted (German, etc.) coproducers, the film risks the familiar Euro-pudding affliction – Eyad has an urbs-ex-machina flight to Berlin near the end – the film is both funny and ultimately surprisingly moving.

  • ...That's what prevents A Borrowed Identity from being truly perceptive: It lacks a formal rigor to match its thematic heft, preferring a digestible naturalism that serves its plot points in plain, uncomplicated sight. Nevertheless, Riklis keeps the proceedings from fully deflating with an ending that offers no easy outs for Eyad, as darkness creeps in, with the glow of a burning cigarette the only guiding light the film has left to offer.

  • As in the director's The Syrian Bride and Lemon Tree, the tilt here is toward the underdog. Especially with its taboo-breaking stunner of a finale, political purists may balk at what might have been called Passing: For Palestinians.

  • Riklis handles the material sensitively and with keen attention to its political implications, only occasionally lapsing into obviousness.

  • “A Borrowed Identity” commendably avoids polemics in order to provide a textured portrait of a young man going through a set of personal transitions against the background of ongoing cultural flux that reflects a larger, collective identity crisis. Its evocation of the historical period feels carefully honed and resonant.

  • [Dancing Arabs is] the latest film by Israeli vet Eran Riklis (The Syrian Bride, Lemon Tree, The Human Resources Manager), being released stateside as A Borrowed Identity — a half-assed and misleading moniker for an otherwise marvelously balanced film: thoughtful, thought-out, and gracefully fluid. More a meticulous than an intrusive director, he does throw us some powerfully sensuous bones.

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