Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 2009

Amreeka

Amreeka

Synopsis

Fish-out-of-water comedy about a Palestinian single mother and her son who start a new life in rural Illinois

About

Comedy doesn't come much more well-intentioned than this. The opening fifteen minutes of Amreeka swiftly establish the mounting day-to-day strains of life in Ramallah for Palestinian single mother Muna: she's faced with the indignity of bumping into her ex-husband and new girlfriend doing the shopping, endures the constant haranguing of her ailing mother at home - not to mention having to battle through two hours of checkpoints and diversions to achieve what should be a 15-minute commute every time she steps outside. Yet, minutes later, Muna and her teenage son Fadi are swept off to their new life with Muna's sister Raghda (Hiam Abass) in rural Illinois, and writer-director Cherien Dabis is eking comic mileage out of a misunderstanding between Muna and an airport customs official regarding the various senses of the noun 'occupation' in the English language.

In its broadest terms, neither the comedy nor the narrative developments - Fadi inevitably suffers racist bullying at school, and former bank employee Muna is forced to take a job flipping burgers alongside local spotty teens - stray beyond standard fish-out-of-water conventions. Where the film strikes a chord is not in its observations of how Muna and Fadi are (or aren't) accepted into their new wider community, though, but in how cultural and generational differences can drive wedges closer to home.

Muna's niece Salma (a reliably sparky Alia Shawkat), having grown up in Illinois, considers herself to be American, which differs somewhat with her mother's reckoning: 'As long as you live in this house, you live in Palestine!' Dabis, herself a child of Palestinian and Jordanian parents who grew up in Ohio, shows she has no trouble conveying how much can get lost in translation even between mother and daughter. 'What does delusional mean?', a non-plussed Muna asks, trying to decode Salma's teen strop. 'How should I know?', Raghda replies.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Yussuf Abu-Warda, Hiam Abbass, Alia Shawkat
  • Director: Cherien Dabis
  • Screen Writer: Cherien Dabis
  • Photographer: Tobias Datum

In a nutshell

Enjoyable but uneven, Amreeka is an unlikely comic take on the plight of the displaced, at home and abroad.

by Sophie Ivan

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Youth

    Youth

    Fred and Mick, two old friends now approaching 80, are on vacation together in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. The two friends know that their time is quickly running out, and they decide to face their future together.

  • Film4 The Stranger Wore a Gun

    The Stranger Wore a Gun

    Randolph Scott stars in a Western about a former spy who relocates to Ariozna to join a gold robbbery, but quickly reassesses his decision

    On Film4: 21 Apr 1:05PM

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Mike Leigh announces new film, Peterloo

    Mike Leigh's next project will look at Peterloo - the infamous 1819 massacre by government forces at a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter's Field in Manchester, when 700 working people were inju

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Four Film4-backed films selected In Competition at Cannes 2015

    Four Film4-backed films ¿ Todd Haynes¿ Carol, Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster, Paolo Sorrentino¿s Youth and Justin Kurzel¿s Macbeth ¿ have been invited into official selection at this year¿s Cannes film

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share