In one month Abu Shadi (Mohammed Bakri) will be living alone. Reunited with his estranged son to hand deliver invitations for his daughter’s wedding, Wajib is a story of family, loss, and life in Nazareth. Intimate and unassuming, Wajib is a quintessentially arthouse film. Dealing with the politics of family, Israel and Palestine Wajib is both beautiful and hard-hitting. As a Son (Saleh Bakri) and Father disagree on what it means to survive and to fight in a modern Nazareth, we’re taken on a road trip through their lives as we discover the secrets, white lies and worse, all of which make up the complex web that is their lives.
Mohammed Bakri is known for his politics and his defence of Palestinian rights. Similarly director Annemarie Jacir (Salt of this sea and When I Saw You) is known for several films on life as a Palestinian. Wajib chooses to deal with complex and difficult issues with a much softer touch, which makes them all the more poignant. Is life about enjoying what you have and making the most of life or is it about fighting for more? Is it braver to tear down walls or is it braver to do what is necessary to keep your family safe and well? These are the questions that Wajib asks but provides no answer.
Yet you cannot forget the beautiful family tale opening up before our eyes. Abu Shadi, whose wife left him for a life in America and another man is faced with battling what’s best for his daughter and tackling resentment against his former wife, and his son who supports her. Mohammed Bakri gives an incredible deep and nuanced performance, with Saleh Bakribacking this performance with equal skill to create possible the most honest portrayal of father and son I’ve even seen in film. Dark humour is present throughout Wajib, and is back up by a beautiful pace coupled with simple but artistically crafted shots.
We see all of Nazareth during their tour of the city, but we travel much further into the hearts of these characters. Wajib is a beautiful film that makes you think, laugh and cry. It has everything, and although typically arthouse in that dialogue and not action makes up the bulk of this film, Wajib is a film I would thoroughly recommend.
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