Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Wajib

Reviews - Wajib


Reviewed By Vaughan Ames

I will start with an admission: I thought that 'Wajib' would be an OK film, but not memorable. How wrong was I! Set in the streets of Nazareth, the film follows Abu Shadi and his son Shadi around town during one day as they hand deliver 340 invitations to Abu Shadi's daughter's wedding (It is the local custom-cum-duty (wajib) to hand deliver them). We are treated to various comedic episodes as they visit great aunts and second cousins who all offer them so much coffee and sweet food that I doubt either of them could sleep that night. There is a funny scene when, half way through, they realise the invitations have the wrong day printed on them...

Comedy aside though, what made the film so memorable was the inter-generational and political divide between the father and son: Abu Shadi is in his 60s and has taught in Nazareth all his life, while Shadi was sent abroad as a youth and is now an architect in Italy, living with his lover. Dad keeps dropping hints about him coming home and finding the right girl to marry. Shadi's partner is the daughter of a PLO leader and Shadi cannot stand the compromises Abu Shadi has to make to live in Israel, which Abu Shadi just sees as normal life.

This comes to a head when Abu Shadi announces the next invitation is to Ronnie Avi, a fellow teacher at Abu's school who Shadi is convinced is an Israeli spy, responsible for him being interrogated while young and the reason he was sent abroad. At first Abu seems to give in and not deliver the invitation but, at the end of the day, he says this is the last one and Shadi stops the car and leaps out. They fling insults at each other and Shadi walks off; we can see that both men regret the argument but it seems too late.

More important to the film than their political differences is their age difference: Shadi lives in Italy, is a man of the world and knows he has all the answers, while Abu is a family man whose wife has left him for another man, to his perpetual shame. His wife is supposed to be coming home for the wedding but has told Shadi that she might not make it as her new partner is dying. All this lies between the two men, but the love between them still shines through (due to both some great acting and that the actors are father and son in real life).

The last scene sees them smoking together: Abu admits that Shadi might be right about Ronnie and Shadi announces that his mother is coming to the wedding as her partner has died...all is calm again, at least for the moment... a beautiful, thought-provoking film.

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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.

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