After attending his brother’s wedding in their Arabic home town, Sami (Alex Bakri) and his family cannot return to Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers have put up road blocks without warning, enforcing a lockdown on the village. Stripped of the distractions that usually get him through his day, Sami is at a loss. The protagonist is unable to cope with either his immediate or extended family, and so starts to reconnect with Abed (Ehab Salami), an old friend that he has avoided for a very long time.

Based on the novel by Palestinian author Sayed Kashua, Let It Be Morning explores both the political and human conflicts of the Israeli Arab community. In his arrogant vilification of the villagers, who never “made it out”, and his frustration at being forced to spend time with his wife and son, Sami is a perfect contradiction of unlikable yet utterly relatable to the audience.

The pace is slow, but what is refreshing about director Eran Kolirin’s approach is that the feature does not claim to have easy answers or solutions. Instead, the audience simply gets to witness the toll that the cultural divide is taking on these particular characters.

In defiance of the heavy subject matter, there are continually scenes that bring humour to the situation without losing the focus of the narrative. Sitting in the car, Sami and Abed awkwardly bob their heads to Sia. It may at first glance appear to be merely a moment of lightness, but the lyrics – “Cause I’m just holding on for tonight” – turn out to be very apt, giving unexpected depth to the attempt at male bonding.

The cast – all of whom hold this production together brilliantly – did not come to Cannes for the première. Instead they have chosen to boycott the festival after seeing the film listed as “Israeli production”.

★★★☆☆

Selina Sondermann

Let It Be Morning (Vayehi Boker) does not have a UK release date set.

For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.

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