Saturday 15 August 2015

"Theeb/Wolf" (Guardian 14/08/15)

Theeb/Wolf ***

Dir: Naji Abu Nowar. With: Jacir Eid, Hussein Salameh, Hassan Mutlag, Jack Fox. 100 mins. Cert: 15

The Oxford-born, Jordanian-bred filmmaker Naji Abu Nowar here tells an intimate story of betrayal and survival in a wide-open space, while rewriting an especially contentious chapter of movie history. During WWI, a young boy in a Bedouin encampment (Jacir Eid) grows curious about a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Englishman (Jack Fox, with decidedly Lawrentian mien) who’s appeared from nowhere with a trunkful of gold. Subsequent events are observed not from the perspective of the white male empire builder, but the vulnerable child: this enforced naivety places certain plot elements beyond our immediate reach, but also allows other developments to hit us with an entirely unexpected force. The narrative meanders a little along the way to the chastening punchline, but Eid proves a dolefully expressive lead, and Wolfgang Thaler’s ever-eloquent camerawork is as fascinated by the discovery of bullet shells in the sand – a clue, and a warning – as it is by the punishingly craggy landscape. 

Theeb/Wolf is now playing in selected cinemas.

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