Film Review: Melting Pot Boils Over

AJAMI (on DVD; Kino International)

| September-October 2010

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.