Amreeka As Muna, a single Palestinian woman plunked down in small-town Illinois with her teenage son in Amreeka , the radiant, zaftig Nisreen Faour exudes an… Amreeka As Muna, a single Palestinian woman plunked down in small-town Illinois with her teenage son in Amreeka , the radiant, zaftig Nisreen Faour exudes an… 2009-09-04 PG-13 PT97M Drama Hiam Abbass Nisreen Faour Melkar Muallem Alia Shawkat National Geographic
Movie Review

Amreeka (2009)

MPAA Rating: PG-13
EMIGRE'S ANATOMY Nisreen Faour and Melkar Muallem embrace in Amreeka
EMIGRE'S ANATOMY Nisreen Faour and Melkar Muallem embrace in Amreeka
EW's GRADE
A-

Details Limited Release: Sep 04, 2009; Rated: PG-13; Length: 97 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Hiam Abbass and Nisreen Faour; Distributor: National Geographic

As Muna, a single Palestinian woman plunked down in small-town Illinois with her teenage son in Amreeka, the radiant, zaftig Nisreen Faour exudes an irresistible sweetness even when Muna's life is sour. After enduring the hassles and indignities of the West Bank, mother and son happily imagine a freer future in Amreeka (that's Arabic for ''America''). They find encouragement and temporary housing from Muna's Stateside sister (elegant Hiam Abbass from The Visitor) and doctor 
 brother-in-law (Yussef Abu Warda). But the U.S. has just invaded Iraq. And the usual challenges of immigrant adjustment are compounded by the fears and prejudices of locals. (Abu Warda's doctor is losing patients — as filmmaker Cherien Dabis has said her own Ohio-based Palestinian physician father did at the time.) Only with perseverance does Muna, a banking professional, get a job — running the fryer and swabbing floors at White Castle. Meanwhile, her son (Melkar Muallem) faces his own hazing in public high school.

Amreeka is strategically inviting and carefully mild even when making unsubtle points about Palestinian suffering and American insensitivity. Dramatic conflicts resolve, in the end, with the telltale brightness of a script that's been through the Sundance Lab's rinse cycle. But the good 
 humor, generosity, and love Dabis bestows on her characters in this assured first feature are uniquely hers — the mark of a talent to watch. A–

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Originally posted Sep 02, 2009 Published in issue #1064 Sep 11, 2009 Order article reprints
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