It Must be Heaven is the latest satirical comedy from world renowned director Elia Suleiman. Known throughout his work for commenting on the state of Palestine, his country which he holds close to his heart, Suleiman’s latest film looks at the world around him rather than his country directly. However, as he travels from Palestine, France and New York, Suleiman’s story brings up parallels which are taken for granted abroad but hold a deeper meaning for Suleiman’s home country.
Being a master of an almost lost form of cinema (silent cinema) Suleiman is there every step of the way with the audience, putting himself in every scene as he is a silent and yet compelling observer of the world. Along with the audience, he witnesses the unusual, the passionate, the disturbing and often the comical sides of life.
Rather that starkly telling the audience as it is and the way Suleiman sees it, his presence as director, writer and actor is as if Suleiman has stepped out into the cinema audience and is sat alongside them as the film plays out. Mostly as a spectator but occasionally and sometimes with great surprise for the audience as a participant.
Suleiman is a pleasant man to spend time with and so his thoughtful observations subtly help the audience understand what he is trying to say – even when he says nothing at all. It Must be Heaven shows the world as it is but in a heightened and comedic way, so while the audience are laughing at the vignettes that make up the film, they can be taken aback when they start to realise that these satirical observations may not be so amusing after all.
Through the use of precisely choreographed scenes involving tapes measures and Segways, Suleiman shows the peaceful beauty of life as well as the comedy that comes with the most mundane of situations. However, while the audience have their guards down, that is when Sulieman starts to tell the audience why they are there and what he wants to really say.
Although Suleiman’s story is not without a little venting on ignorant producers who want to tell his story their way or want to soften the message to appeal to a broader audience.
It Must be Heaven can be appreciated in many ways and can appeal to those who are fans of Suleiman’s work, those who are passionately political or even those who may just enjoy a gentle view of the world told through the medium of silent cinema.
Although there may be moments that go over the heads of the audience that may be less informed of Sulieman’s background and Palestine’s place in the world, It Must be Heaven shows that there is still a place in the world for such a unique voice.
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