Movie Review: Love, Theft and Other Entanglements (2015)
“Love, Theft and Other Entanglements” is a dark comedy about Palestine and Israel, but sadly it’s neither comedy enough nor dark enough. Still, you’ve got to give writer-director Muayad Alayan credit for trying. Tough to make comedy out of ongoing tragedy.
Mousa (Sami Metwasi) is a petty thief who gets enmeshed in more powerful forces when he steals a car not knowing an Israeli soldier—barter for the release of Palestinian prisoners—is bound and gagged in the trunk. Suddenly his hot car, a Volkswagen Passat, is superhot. No fence will touch the stripped items he offers, and both the Palestinian militia in their white van and the Israeli cops, led by a tall, bald official, are after him.
All his life, Mousa was someone who ran away. When we first see him, he’s at a construction job, angry and outraged with boredom; then he bolts. Years earlier, he got a girl, Manal (Maya Abu al-Hayyat), pregnant, and he bolted then, too, even though he now returns to bang her and stare moony-eyed at her/his daughter from a distance. (She married someone else, a rich man, so his daughter is now daughter to someone else.) Beofre this latest screw-up, Mousa was getting ready to run away anyway—to Italy, via a fake passport—but fake passports cost. The plan was to use the money from the Passat to pay for the passport. Now he can't. Now he’s trapped.
There’s some good bits. I like the nervous dance Mousa does, gun drawn, when he first releases the soldier, Avi Cohen (Riyad Silman), from the trunk. Metwasi and Silman have good chemistry as they go on the run, sleep on the ground, are discovered by a goat and a blind woman. Mousa isn’t much of a thief and Cohen isn’t much a soldier—a cook, I believe—and some of their back-and-forth is mildly amusing, but that’s about it. It’s all presented matter of factly. It feels like it needs a slight Coenesque push toward something broader, or more poignant, or both, but Alayan doesn’t give it that push. He also seems to care too much about Mousa without giving us reason to.
So if the essence of Mousa is to run away from responsibility, what will the ending be? Right. He stays to take responsibility for something he didn’t do. In a sense, the ending is the most tortured part of the movie.