Combustible Celluloid
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With: Rami Doueiri, Mohamad Chamas, Rola Al Amin
Written by: Ziad Doueiri
Directed by: Ziad Doueiri
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Arabic, French with English subtitles
Running Time: 105
Date: 09/01/1998

West Beirut (1999)

3 Stars (out of 4)

The War at Home

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

West Beirut is a fascinating, loosely told story of three teens, Tarek (Rami Doueiri), Omar (Mohamad Chamas), and May (Rola Al Amin) living in Beirut in 1975.Their city has been torn in half by war; East Beirut is controlled by theChristians, and West Beirut is run by the Muslim militia. Our heroes live in WestBeirut and, with school closed indefinitely, they find an odd new freedom therethat is tainted by war, running around making Super 8 movies and trying not toget shot. The actors were all once street kids in real life, and they're allamazing to watch. They ooze charisma and honesty.

Lebanon-born Ziad Doueiri, who worked on all of Quentin Tarantino's films from Reservoir Dogs (1992) to Jackie Brown (1997) makes his directorial debut with this movie. His film has an easy, lyrical feel, and I grew to like its characters very much. It thankfully avoids most of the obvious war movie clich├ęs and growing-up scenes, and moves along like a groovy disco record.

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