Movie Review: SKIES OF LEBANON

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Skies of Lebanon, the first feature from French-Lebanese filmmaker Chloe Mazlo, who co-scripted with Yacine Badday, is an unusual film that brilliantly mixes live action and animation to capture the tensions and intense drama of a family surrounded by war.

The story follows Alice (Alba Rohrwacher) as she leaves her repressive family in Switzerland for a new life in Beirut, where she’s found work as a nanny. By chance, she meets and immediately falls madly in love with the ever-simpatico and charming Joseph (Waidi Mouawad), a rocket scientist who is as dedicated to her as he is to achieving Lebanon’s first space shot.

Their day to day married life is the substance of the script. Despite their failed desire to have a child, they enjoy good times with great friends and the quiet comfort of their home — until all of that is disrupted by the eruption of civil war.

The ongoing violence that surrounds them and the abhorrent execution of ethnic cleansing finally forces them and their extended family to decide whether to stay in their beloved home or depart for safer turf.

There are throughout the scenario engaging plot twists, elements of bold humor and consistently charming character development, but what is most outstanding and compelling about this pleasing family narrative is the stunningly unusual and captivating style in which it is presented.

Using live action and animation that provide counterpoint against and morph into each other, enhanced by the brilliant Helene Louvart’s subtly alluring cinematography, editor Clemence Carre’s impeccable heartbeat-pacing and the introduction of quirky elements such as a dancing cedar tree (a symbol of Lebanon), Mazlo transforms what might have been a rather run-of-the-mill family drama into a work of art of mythic proportions.

Skies of Lebanon is greater than the sum of its parts and opens the mind to deep consideration of the invasive impact that war and social strife have on upstanding good citizens who work hard to contribute to society and, in return, just want to live in peace. And, thanks to its genre-defying style, it manages to be a lot of fun while it’s being quite serious. Skies of Lebanon touches on themes that are currently relevant around the world, as well as right here, at home. The film is a must see.

FILM DETAILS:

Title: Skies of Lebanon

Directors: Chloe Mazlo

Release Date: July 22, 2022 (US release)

Running Time: 92 minutes

Language: French and Lebanese with English Subtitles

Screenwriter: Chloe Mazlo with Yacine Badday

Distribution Company: Dekanalog

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