Wajib (4 stars)

Wajib

Warm and relatable road movie from Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir

Annemarie Jacir's wry, prodigal son saga Wajib is loosely inspired by events in her own life. The material is personal and the Nazareth setting specific but there is a universal resonance to the tale. It is easy to relate to the suffocating family obligations and the comforting white lies that ease the most awkward of social situations.

Architect Shadi (Saleh Bakri) returns home to Nazareth for the wedding of his sister Amal (Maria Zreik). Tradition dictates that he should accompany his schoolteacher father Abu Shadi (Mohammad Bakri) as they personally hand deliver wedding invitations.

It is the starting point for the gentlest of road movies in which the two men journey across the city, travelling from polite co-existence to outright hostility. Abu Shadi has not been entirely truthful about his son's current profession or location. He also seizes every opportunity to play matchmaker. 'It's too bad people don't marry their cousins any more,' he observes. Every little niggling comment and clash builds towards conflict as Abu Shadi finds fault everywhere he looks – from his son's taste in clothes to his man bun hairstyle.

The personal slowly becomes political as we gain a subtle sense of the frustrations inherent in daily life in Nazareth – a city where rubbish is piling up on the streets, traffic is impossible to navigate and even minor aggravations are the starting point for open conflict. We also learn the reasons for Shadi's exile and how different the country feels with distance.

Smartly paced and filled with chuckles of recognition, Wajib is modest in scale but leaves a warm, pleasurable glow. It encourages us to invest in the emotional nitty gritty of this father-son relationship, and to recognise that there is more that unites them than can ever pull them apart.

Selected release from Fri 14 Sep.

Wajib

  • 4 stars
  • 2017
  • Palestine/France/Colombia
  • 1h 36min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Annemarie Jacir
  • Cast: Mohammad Bakri, Saleh Bakri, Tarik Kopty, Maria Zreik
  • UK release: 9 October 2017

Shadi (Bakri) has to accompany his father Abu Shadi (Bakri) as they hand-deliver wedding invitations for sister Amal (Zreik). Smartly-paced, modestly-scaled family drama that leaves a warm glow even while it deals honestly with difficult issues.

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