Named for the ethnically diverse Tel Aviv slum where it takes place, Ajami
unfolds like a Mediterranean Crash
, complete with interconnected stories of racial and internecine conflict and a jigsaw-puzzle narrative. But the film’s social fabric is far more authentic, complex, and violent than its U.S. predecessor’s, as Jews, Bedouins, and Arabs of all stripes face off in this hothouse environment and small arguments bubble over into brutal murder. Don’t let its Oscar nomination fool you: Ajami
is trenchant and intense, sparing none of its protagonists from their dysfunctional, dead-end surroundings.