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September 06, 2009

Amreeka

Amreeka Writer/director Cherien Dabis's Sundance Festival entry digresses from a gritty West Bank drama to a stagy middle-American melodrama. Single mother Muna (Nisreen Faour) takes her teenage son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) away from the oppressive political and physical atmosphere of Ramallah to a nearly as tyrannical environment in a Chicago suburb. After having their savings are unknowingly heisted by airport customs officials, Muna and Fadi take up residence with her sister Raghda (Hiam Abbass) and her family. Unable to find employment in her previous line of banking work, Muna is relegated to taking a  cashier job at a White Castle burger shop while Fadi gets a crash course in racism American-style at his new high school school. "Amreeka" goes all TV-afternoon-special with a pat romantic subplot between Muna and the principal at her son's school. Dabis's wobbly stance on American domestic and international policies forms a watery broth beneath a prosaic narrative that bends too far toward capitalist product placement in the name of White Castle.
Not Rated. 96 mins. (C) (Two Stars)

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