Wednesday, 19 August 2015

REVIEW - THEEB (NAJI ABU NOWAR)


A deftly constructed coming-of-age tale, not least in that it never identifies itself as such until its central character has reached such a level of maturity. It's a moment of uncertainty in narrative terms, yet resolve and resolution in character terms: a decision is reached, not to act but to think, to engender one's own agency of thought, acquired via interaction with other people and with testing circumstances. The figures in Theeb bear scant backstories, as Theeb himself will too; the film explicates what it takes to become such a figure, and the challenges of adapting to an ever-adapting world as a vulnerable child. The child becomes an adult in a moment that initially strikes the audience as contrived - adjust your expectations, viewers, as Theeb contains several such moments, and your reaction to them ought not to be based on how you feel this film's plot should progress, but on your appreciation of what has come before and what is yet to come within this plot. Theeb learns even as we don't, observes and accumulates knowledge and skills; the film tests Theeb, and thus documents his transition from bystander by necessity to instigator within his own life. Theeb is shot and scored perceptively, with situations and surroundings ostensibly minimised, yet presented as inherently influential - location is as important here, if not more so, than Theeb's companions in defining how he acts, how he reacts and whom he becomes. That is to say that you won't notice how Naji Abu Nowar does it, but he definitely does it alright. A surprising film, though unsurprisingly good.