The Band’s Visit

Directed by Eran Kolirin

2007

The Band’s Visit is designed to warm your heart. It’s a quietly humourous fish-out-of-water comedy where people spontaneously burst into a group singalong of Gershwin’s “Summertime” over the dinnertable. The only thing stopping The Band’s Visit from successfully warming your heart is that it’s not believable. In fact, when you summarise the movie after seeing it you realise just how trite the whole affair is.

The plot: An Egyptian band arrives in Israel to play at the inaugural ceremony of an Arab arts centre. They end up stranded in the wrong town in the middle of nowhere and have to depend on the townspeople’s hospitality for the night. Over the course of the night, the Arabs and Israelis teach each other lessons about life.

Alfonso Cuaron on the publicity trail for his film Children of Men talked about using his film to bring hope, but not “bullshit” hope. This film feels like bullshit hope. It approaches the cultural relations between Arabs and Israelis using the narrative logic of the Breakfast Club. Oh, if only life really was a John Hughes film. If only Israel and Palestine could solve their differences by spending a Saturday detention together and dancing to Karla DeVito’s “We Are Not Alone”.

Films that would work as a doublebill:

  • The Breakfast Club, John Hughes, 1985.
  • The Man Without a Past, Aki Kaurismaki, 2002.
  • Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Dennis Dugan, 2008.
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