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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DVD Review: Amreeka

Amreeka - An E1 Films’ Release


DVD Release Date: February 16th, 2010

Rated PG for brief drug use involving teens and some language

Running time: 96 minutes

Cherien Dabis (dir.)

Cherien Dabis (writer)

Kareem Roustom (music)

Nisreen Faour as Muna Farah

Melkar Muallem as Fadi Farah

Hiam Abbass as Raghda Halaby

Alia Shawkat as Salma

Joseph Ziegler as Mr. Novatski

Yussuf Abu-Warda as Nabeel Halaby

Our reviews below:


Amreeka DVD Review By John C.

***1/4 (out of 4)

Amreeka tells the story of a woman, Muna (Nisreen Faour), and her teenage son, Fadi (Melkar Muallem), who move from Palestine to America (or with an accent “Amreeka”), only to discover a harsh culture-shock.

The acting by the entire cast is very good, and the story, while not groundbreaking in terms of narrative, is an interesting and incredibly believable one.

Amreeka is a film so incredibly entertaining with characters that are just plain likable. It’s good-natured energy is contagious. It plays well on DVD, so seek it out. This is a very good film.

The DVD includes interviews with the cast and crew, and a 22-minute episode of the Qatar-produced TV show The Fabulous Picture Show, where they discuss the film.


Amreeka DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of four)

In Amreeka, Muna moves herself and her son Fadi from Palestine as their life there becomes increasingly disrupted by military checkpoints and walls closing them in. So, taking a chance, they go to America, where Muna's sister already lives with her family. But this new country has many unforeseen challenges awaiting them. While working at a Palestinian bank for years, Muna is unable to find an equal job as an immigrant in the USA. Meanwhile, her son Fadi finds it hard to fit into his new school...

Amreeka is a very solid film. The acting is good, and the story is one that is very real in today's world. The film switches back and forth between Arabic with subtitles, and English, but is well paced and easy to follow. While Amreeka wasn't in that wide a release, now that it's on DVD, I would definitely recommend seeking it out.


Amreeka DVD Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Amreeka is a fascinating story about an immigrant family’s efforts to settle into a new life. Taking place in 2003, Amreeka follows single mom, Muna and teenage son Fadi. They live in the West Bank, and have to take ridiculous detours between military walls and checkpoints, just to get to work and school. So when Muna gets approved for immigration into the USA, Fadi convinces Muna to move into small town Illinois with his aunt and cousin. In the USA, however, Fadi has to battle racism and ignorance from bullies. Muna also struggles with prejudice and racism. She tells her family that she works at a bank, like back home, but is really working at a local White Castle. Over time, the family begins to slowly integrate into their new home in “Amreeka”.

I really liked Amreeka. The characters are very believable and likable. The movie, while low key, never drags. Amreeka is worth checking out .


Amreeka DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Amreeka is a sweet and heartwarming story about two immigrants from the West Bank trying to settle into life in small town Illinois. Muna (Nisreen Faour) is a single mother determined to give her son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) a better life in America (Amreeka).

Muna arrives in the United States full of optimism and hope and a cookie tin full of cash. Things don’t go exactly as planned. Muna finds herself broke and the only job she can get is at the local White Castle, cooking burgers, despite her background in banking. Her son Fadi has a hard time adjusting and fitting in at the high school. Even with all her struggles, Muna remains positive and charmingly determined to make things work.

The strength in Amreeka lies in the writing and the acting. Much of the dialogue is in Arabic with English subtitles. This is never a distraction as the characters are so believable and likable that you want to take the time and know what they are saying. Credit has to go to Nisreen Faour for her wonderful portrayal of Muna. By the end of the movie, I just wanted to give Muna a big hug.

This is a really nice story about immigrants, and the human spirit. Amreeka is definitely worth checking out.


Amreeka DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Palestinian single mother Muna Farah (Nisreen Faour) and her teenage son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) have no future in a land where several hours a day are wasted being hassled at Israeli checkpoints. They arrive in the suburbs of Chicago to stay with Muna’s sister Raghda (Hiam Abbass) who has been in the U.S. for 15 years with her doctor husband Nabeel (Yussuf Abu-Warda). With the help of their two daughters, Fadi tries to fit in at school, but despite Muna’s education and banking experience, the only job she can find is in a White Castle fast food restaurant. In the wake of 9/11 Fadi is bullied and Nabeel’s practice is drying up. When Fadi fights back, the school principal (Joseph Ziegler) tries to help and a friendship between him and Muna blossoms.

Despite frequent gaffes and setbacks, Muna’s charm and optimism, shared by the principal, leave us hopeful. In contrast, Raghda and her cynical husband are just about ready to give up and move back to a Palestine that no longer exists, divided up by walls erected to protect Israeli settlements. Though somewhat predictable, Amreeka is a moving film, with a theme common to many immigrant groups over the years, that would be particularly recommendable for school kids. The cast is excellent, especially Nisreen Faour who is really charming, Melkar Muallem in a promising breakout role, and Hiam Abbass reprising similar long-suffering roles in The Visitor and Etz Limon (Lemon Tree). By the way, Amreeka is what Muna’s nagging mother calls her new country.


Consensus: Amreeka is a very good, well acted, believable and incredibly likable film about immigrants in America. This is one worth checking out. ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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