The Band’s Visit

Eran Kolirin
Running Time
87 mins

An Egyptian police band gets stranded in a remote Israeli town in this charming 2007 comedy-drama that tackles the thorny issue of Arab-Israeli relations from a slyly oblique angle. But just as you begin to fear writer-director Eran Kolirin is simply trying to poke fun at the awkward foreigners, playing off Arab rubes against Israeli sophisticates, it becomes clear that something else is going on.

The relations between hosts and visitors turn out to be far from one-sided. The musicians may require shelter, but the locals have a neediness that goes much deeper. Doleful, dignified Tewfiq, for example, finds himself taken up by the much younger Dina, who invites him out to dinner. He’s reserved, she’s outgoing; he’s bashful, she’s sexy. What they have in common is a shared loneliness. Meanwhile, the other musicians are experiencing an awkward evening with a squabbling family, before tensions are eased by a shared appreciation of music. The Band’s Visit may not be world changing, but with its humane vision and understated humour, it’s most definitely welcome.

By robin askew, Saturday, Oct 3 2020

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