ARZE (Tribeca 2024) – Review by Sherin Nicole

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

When a symbol of prosperity is stolen hope erodes and buried pain erupts. That’s my logline for Arzé, the directorial debut from Lebanese filmmaker Mira Shaib. This is the tale of the titular single mother, living in Beirut and struggling to care for her agoraphobic older sister and to appease her teenage son. When the opportunity to sell more of her homemade pies comes up, Arzé (Diamond Abou Abboud) hocks her sister’s beloved bracelet to buy a red scooter, allowing her son, Kinan (Bilal Al Hamwi), to deliver to a larger area. What begins as a dream on the verge leads to the opening of old wounds when the scouter is stolen and hopes crash.

Both a procedural and a family drama, Arzé sends mother and son onto the streets of Lebanon in search of the scooter and the new life they might still claim. As the search devolves so do the relationships and it becomes clear the family of three cannot move forward until they heal the deceits of their pasts.

Although I’ve never been to Lebanon, Arzé feels as quintessentially Beirut as films like A Thousand and One are New York. The culture is vividly alive in all its hues, making the characters feel like people you know but haven’t seen in a while. Abboud, Al Hamwi, and Betty Taoutel (as Arzé’s sister Layla) are a family. You cannot convince me otherwise—every nuance of love, resentment, and misunderstanding is here. They are as tangible as touching the walls in your hometown and knowing the textures are true.

Actualizing the story from a script by Sam Faisal Shaib and Louay Khraish, Shaib directs with an eye toward sensory experiences—imbuing the film with a rise and fall; highs of humor and intimacy juxtaposed with lows of disillusionment and anger. Arzé draws you into its spell, ensuring the ending is as delightfully satisfying as one of Arzé’s famous pies.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

Sherin Nicole

Sherin Nicole writes about film and produces content for geeks and nerds alike on Geek Girl Riot.