DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
CUP FINAL (Gmar Gavi'a) (director: Eran Riklis; screenwriters: Eyal Halfon/based on an idea by Mr. Riklis; cinematographer: Amnon Salomon; editor: Anat Lubarsky; music: Raviv Gazit; cast: Moshe Ivgy (Cohen), Mohammed Bakri (Ziad), Salim Dau (Mussa), Bassam Zo'amat (Abu Eyash), Youssef Abou Warda (George), Suhel Haddad (Omar), Gassan Abbas (Shukri), Sharon Alexander (Lt. Gallili), Johnny Arbid (Fatchi), Sami Samir (Halil); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Michael Sharfstein; First Run Features; 1991-Israel-in Hebrew/Arabic/English with English subtitles)

 
"Lyrical anti-war film."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis ("Zohar"/"The Syrian Bride") directs this lyrical anti-war film that covers the June, 1982, Israel invasion of Lebanon. It uses soccer as a bridge between enemy soldiers that can possibly bring them to recognize they might also have other things in common. The even-handed political story is based on an idea by Mr. Riklis and written by Eyal Halfon.

After their squad is ambushed in Lebanon, Lt. Gallili (Sharon Alexander) and reservist army Sgt. Cohen (Moshe Ivgy) of the IDF are captured by eight retreating PLO fighters. The PLO soldiers, led by Ziad (Mohammed Bakri), plan to take the valuable captives back to Beirut through the war-torn countryside where the strife is still going on and trade them for PLO prisoners. At the same time, the World Cup soccer games begin in Spain, an event sports-nut Cohen had tickets for to root for Italy--the same team Ziad roots for. Along the way Gallili is killed, and the 'everyman' Cohen is left alone to deal with the brutal situation. 

The prisoner and the captors have a distrust for each other, but after airing out their differences and talking about themselves things get less hostile. But it also shows how complex is the long-standing Arab-Israeli conflict and how far apart are the sides even if the enemies begin to share a grudging respect for each other. As the hostage situation builds to its climax and they reach Beirut, the war truths hit home and show how destructive is the war. 

Breaking no new ground as it makes its way through a minefield of bitterness, menace, irony and human bonding, it at least holds out some hope that there's a dim light at the end of the tunnel if both sides can only see the humanity in each other. Riklis bends over backwards to remain neutral, letting each side say what's on their mind. He also lets the story play out as tragically as it must, reminding us throughout that a brutal war is taking place even though on radio the announcements of the war don't sound any different from how the soccer game is reported. 

REVIEWED ON 1/2/2009       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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