In her drama WAJIB Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir takes us on a journey through the traditions of her homeland and also tells us about a dysfunctional father-son relationship. We reveal more about this project in our review.
Shadi (Saleh Bakri) and his father Abu (Mohammad Bakri) hit the streets of Nazareth.
The plot summary
A few years ago, the architect Shadi (Saleh Bakri) turned his back on his hometown of Nazareth and with it his entire family in order to build a new life for himself in Rome. Now he’s coming back because his sister Amal’s (Maria Zreik) wedding is imminent. And as Palestinian tradition would have it, Shadi and his father Abu (Mohammad Bakri) must personally deliver the wedding invitations to the guests. So the unlikely father-son team sets off on a journey through the streets of Nazareth. This opens up old wounds, because his father has never forgiven Shadi for simply running away, while Shadi in turn accuses his father of bowing to traditions without resistance, without even questioning whether they are still up to date are. When Shadi has to break the news to his sister that her mother won’t be coming to Amal’s wedding, all family members’ nerves are frayed.
Wajib Movie Meaning & ending
The term “Wajib” means something like social obligation in Arabic. The director and screenwriter Annemarie Jacir (“The Salt of the Sea”) touches on many of these in what is now her third feature film and can tell the story first hand. She herself grew up in Bethlehem, Palestine, and experienced firsthand the conflict between tradition and modernity. This is also the basis of her new film, for which she chooses a very reduced setting, without any formulated accusation or a clearly defined position. As an audience, we spend most of the time in the car of the two main characters and see how modernity (Shadi) and tradition (Abu) collide. The discussions only lead to limited new insights, but that is exactly what makes Jacir’s film so special. The filmmaker does not choose a position, foregoes a mentor, a final conclusion. Instead, “Wajib” simply shows two men exchanging their points of view and at the same time supports them with detours into different families, sometimes representing one side, sometimes the other. In the end, everyone can and must form their own opinion.
The bride (Maria Zreik) has a big day ahead of her…
Mohammad Bakri, who is certainly known to many from the internationally successful TV series “Homeland”, and Saleh Bakri (“The Band Next Door”), who is still largely untouched in this country , are also father and son in real life. Her performances in “Wajib” are primarily confrontational. But it is certainly thanks to their close bond in real life that the love that they both have for each other always shines through between the loud arguments. This not only makes the conflicts discussed here, which focus primarily on family obligations, so understandable. Until the end, Annemarie Jacir maintains the impression that her characters are important to her, so that she empathizes with their living conditions all the more intensely. This is the only way the viewer can form their own picture of the problems, because Jacir never resorts to clichés and Middle Eastern prejudices. Accordingly, Annemarie Jacir doesn’t tell a story about radicalism or extremism, even if things like belief in God also play a big role in “Wajib”.
Instead, she generally tests traditions for their everyday suitability, so that her film could actually take place in pretty much any country. The topics discussed here are of universal importance. When the future bride Amal learns that her mother, who left the family early for another man, will not even show up at her wedding because her partner is dying, “Wajib” goes out of the Palestinian cosmos and penetrates into the elementary ones dramatic family film realms, to the questions raised there are no quick answers to be found, just like everything else around them. However, that doesn’t mean that “Wajib” wouldn’t benefit from the exotic Bethlehem setting. Despite its limited financial resources, the film looks excellent. Not because spectacular visual power would open up on the screen. But because Jacir also relies on attention to detail and cultural loyalty when it comes to the production.
Conclusion: Given the setting and subject matter, one would expect a serious problem film. But although director Annemarie Jacir doesn’t shy away from the big problems in her country, “Wajib” feels remarkably light-footed and also works outside of the chosen cultural circle.
“Wajib” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from September 19th.