The Band’s Visit (2007)

11 08 2008

A wonderful, Tati-tinged comedy that hopefully announces one of the future greats of cinematic minimalism in director Eran Kolirin. If the film has any downfaults on the technical side of things, than it’s that the first time director feels slightly uncomfortable holding his shots for a certain amount of time as he often retreats to conventional shot/reverse-shot conversation compositions. One could complain that the story itself is far too inconsequential since very little drama actually occurs, but it perfectly compliments the overall tone. It’s not the sort of film to make a striking impact on someone, but it is wonderful none the less.

A police brass band from Egypt arrives in Israel for a performance, but due to miscommunication, they take the wrong bus. They wind up in a town far from where they intended to be. The lost group wanders around the desert before stumbling upon a small diner. The diner’s owner, Dina, invites the entire group to stay at the her home. The night proceeds awkwardly, as expected, but connections are made and all of the band’s members begin to settle in to their respective temporary shelters.

The deadpan tone is sometimes at risk, here, with slight intrusions coming from the sometimes sappy scores and juxtaposition of far-away static shots with extreme close-ups. I have to admit, I didn’t expect this to be remotely unique. I figured it would have been mostly long static shots of nothing happening, which are indeed present, but with plenty of shot/reverse shot sequences of conversation that go against the restrained approach. On the other hand, most of the talking is handled quite well with a pitch-perfect sense of tension that is always present, regardless of who is speaking. Even if the conversations go on for too long, there’s always a very subtle yet bold saturated visual style for the film to fall back on. A nice little slice-of-life sort of movie, but it seems destined to be forgotten.



One response

2 09 2008
Joe Bowman

Again, I agree almost completely. I was particularly fond of the tone of its humor. The scene where the Egyptian officer instructs the awkward Israeli boy to hit on the girl is probably the only scene where he allows the shot to remain, and hopefully with more work under his belt, he might acquire the confidence to include more like that oh-so-wonderful scene.

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