The Reports on Sarah & Saleem – Film Review

4 stars

The Reports on Sarah & Saleem tells the story of Sarah (Sivane Kretchner), an Israeli café owner who lives in West Jerusalem, and Saleem (Adeeb Safadi), a Palestinian deliveryman from East Jerusalem. It makes for an engrossing tale set across a deeply-divided region.

Saleem runs nightly deliveries from the West to the East. The job affords him the late night trysts with Sarah in the back of his delivery van. It’s a purely physical attraction – Saleem’s home life is unravelling and for Sarah, it’s a distraction from the growing distance between her and her army husband, David.

Saleem and wife, Bisan (Maisa Abd Elhadi) live simply with his wage just covering expenses. Bisan’s brother Mahmoud (Mohammad Eid) secretly gives her sister loans to help cover rising expenses, especially with a young baby on the way. Mahmoud makes a job offer that would see Saleem double his money running goods not available in the east across the border.

On the first night of the new job Saleem meets Sarah for their usual stolen moments. Still with the contraband delivery to make, Saleem convinces Sarah to ride along with him. After making the drop, the pair decide to make a night of it. At a local bar, Sarah pretends to be European; if their true identities known, it would spell disaster. The beautiful Sarah attracts a number of onlookers, one of which tries to coax her onto the dancefloor. He grows suspicious when he spots her Hebrew name pendant; thankfully Saleem whisks her away against her admirer’s will. The minor altercation that ensues has the potential to develop into something more.

And it does. The events reach the attention of the Palestinian police who arrive at Saleem’s door to arrest him on suspicion of smuggling Israeli prostitutes to the West. Mahmoud introduces him to lawyer Abu Ibrahim (Kamel El Basha) who assures Saleem the only way out is to confess to a concoction of a story that he was recruiting Sarah as a spy.

Meanwhile, in Bethlehem, Sarah’s husband David leads a raid that seizes thousands of documents, one that bears Saleem’s signature to the made-up story. It sets off an investigation into the sordid mess that comes to David’s attention. Coming to her husband’s defence, Bisan begins an investigation of her own where the full extent of her husband’s philanderings will be unearthed. She will go to extraordinary lengths to help him, including getting help from an unlikely source.

The Reports on Sarah & Saleem builds great suspense. Given the setting, it is difficult to predict where the action might go.

Opens nationally today at the following participating cinemas:

MELBOURNE
Palace Balwyn
Palace Como
Palace Brighton Bay
Classic, Lido and Cameo Cinemas

SYDNEY
Palace Norton St
Palace Chauvel
Palace Central
Ritz Cinema

CANBERRA
Palace Electric

BRISBANE
Palace James St

ADELAIDE
Palace Nova Eastend

PERTH
Palace Paradiso

4 stars

About The Reports on Sarah & Saleem

Directed by: Muayad Alavan
Written by: Rami Musa Alavan
Stars: Sivane Kretchner, Adeeb Safadi, Maisa Abd Alhadi

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