There is something of The Odd Couple about Juna Suleiman’s cynically humorous docu-fiction portrait of the old, sarcastic Arab woman Haim’s life and loves (or perhaps hates) in Mussolini’s Sister. And – before you ask – the title is certainly eye-catching. But it’s left unexplained until way into this oddball snapshot of the life of an octogenarian Nazareth woman, when we learn that she really did have a brother called Mussolini … Oh, and one called Hitler, who died in infancy. Honestly. Or perhaps not. It is never quite clear where the fact fades or merges into fiction in what is at times a hilarious examination of the human condition.
An intimate portrait
We are used to seeing films about Israel, Palestine, the Middle East that focus on the politics, the wars, the rage, the violence, and the agony. Suleiman’s film touches on all those subjects, but only as incidental influences seen in television images (a political assassination, blood dripping from a ledge; Syrian cities being bombed to bits; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning electors to get out and vote for Likud to counter the «large numbers of Arabs voting»).
Instead, her subject is much more …
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