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Let It Be Morning

Other // Unrated // February 3, 2023
List Price: Unknown

Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted February 3, 2023 | E-mail the Author

Being an immigrant who has to acclimate oneself to a new country and a new culture perpetually traps an individual between the two cultures. Even after twenty years of living in the USA and assuming that I have fully assimilated myself many times over, there are still lingering attachments and conflicts regarding which side of my American culture and Turkish heritage I fall under.

The answer is perhaps somewhere in the middle. Even if I spend another 50 years in my adopted country, the first 20 years I spent in my native culture will always be a persistent part of me. Now imagine a similar situation where someone is stuck between two cultures and countries that are at perpetual war with one another. This is the existential crisis that an upper-middle-class Arab-Israeli software engineer named Sami (Alex Bakri) feels about his humble family roots in Palestine.

Sami fashions himself as one of the "civilized Israelis" who looks down on his primitive beginnings. His family mutually holds poorly hidden resentments toward him, deeming him to be an absentee son and brother, more enemy than family. Sami is already feeling like a stranger within his own family as he attends his brother's wedding in Palestine.

He's constantly on his phone, more interested in his job back "home" than what's going on around him. He has already built a mental wall between himself and his past, so when an actual barrier is put up on the Israeli-Palestinian border and Sami finds himself stuck on the Palestinian side without so much as an explanation by the Israeli military as to why the Palestinians are trapped in their homes, the metaphor matches the reality.

What follows this simple but thematically effective plot point is a deft and compassionate character study that centers on the true meaning of home and culture. As the days go on and Sami becomes more and more agitated about his condition and the fact that he will lose his lucrative job if he's not back on the other side in two days, he struggles with trying to find some form of common ground with those in his family who are fatigued from being treated like terrorists and second-class citizens, a feeling he has managed to avoid by benefiting from being on the same side as their oppressors.

Such a premise could have devolved into a trite melodrama, but the filmmaker behind Let It Be Morning is Eral Kolirin, the director of 2007's charming dramedy The Band's Visit, also about two cultures who are stuck together being put in a position where they have to find common ground to survive.

As much as Kolirin doesn't sugarcoat the resentments between Sami and his family, he also once again emphasizes the human condition and its natural proclivities for finding more similarities that bind us than the cultural or political differences that attempt to define us. The most touching moments in the film don't involve a single line of dialogue but convey mutual communication through body language. Two impromptu dance sequences, one in a van and one on the street, say a lot more about the inherent connections between the characters than any passionate monologue ever could.

Kolirin never sugarcoats any of the story's tragic developments but holds out hope for the future as well. The moment in which the final scene cuts to the credits is perfect in the way that it emphasizes any hope in our future is up to all of us. A more cynical filmmaker could have extended the sequence to its supposed inevitable conclusion. But here, the ending is just the beginning of forming new bridges.

Let It Be Morning will open on February 3rd in New York (QUAD Cinema) and Los Angeles (Laemmle Royal) and will go nationwide on February 17th.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and



Highly Recommended

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