Wednesday, 14 January 2015

REVIEW - THE GREEN PRINCE (NADAV SCHIRMAN)


Talking out your problems makes for better therapy than filmmaking in Nadav Schirman's stationary documentary, The Green Prince. A banal, Homeland-esque score hums inoffensively in the background (or even offensively - I mean, imagine a documentary about Americans that was scored by nothing but dramatic bluegrass sound beds), as two narrators relay their fascinating shared story in the foreground, direct to camera. The story, of the son of a key Hamas leader who is recruited under torture by Shin Bet, is compelling, even on a rudimentary, non-analytical level; Schirman exclusively guts these accounts of most of their innate psychological complexity, indulging in only a few negligible moments of emotional reflection. The film's staged, scripted demeanour, complete with a crass editing style and melodramatic sound effects, keeps The Green Prince's emotional current from resonating at all. And don't blame me for daydreaming - it's my duty as a writer on film to devote to every film an equal, substantial amount of my attention, but if a film cannot sustain it, then I've got more fulfilling things with which to occupy my thoughts. Minute after minute of little but talking can be highly effective in film if dealt with adequately, whereas Schirman prefers a relentless approach, as one drab line reading follows the last. Key to the film's problem in this regard is the monotony of individual passages, as they cover the same territory over and over within themselves, and the film never surfaces above nor dives below its general level of general interest. Well, there it is: The Green Prince is generally interesting, but so is a lot of things. Nadav Schirman's technique for dressing up this glorified therapy session is just to hoke it up, and he produces a film with almost as many problems as its subject.