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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Political > Divine Intervention (Comedy)

Divine Intervention


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: B-



Elia Suleiman is trying something few directors attempt, an existential comedy not unlike what David O. Russell recently pulled off with I “Heart” Huckabees (reviewed elsewhere on this site).  Divine Intervention (2002) is a unique, interesting, clever and comic look at the problems and divisions of religion and disharmony in The Middle East.


The film becomes a series of somewhat related vignettes about the discomfort and especially about silence.  That sometimes means the calm before the storm, but the outbursts are not what you would expect, instead being of the absurd and comic variety.  Yet, this is not a comedy, though it uses humor and juxtaposition to make the audience think about why the ugly realities of war, civil war, terrorism, racism and hate have to go on when most grown adults should know better.  That is why it has become such a celebrated film.  The title does not mock anything, except to ask it here is a singular Semite God, what is all the fuss about?


You can be an atheist and appreciate the film, though not all the absurdity and humor always works, while the many silent stretches are more effective and interesting than most filmmakers could have pulled off.  I thought of Jacques Tati as I watched some of these scenes, though it never takes off in the more existentialist direction his best work did.  What we do get is an important film in its time about the human condition and long-running world events that are coming to a boil.  That is why Divine Intervention is worth your time.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image was shot by cinematographer Marc-André Batigne and shows he has a fine grasp of screen space and comic timing.  Like Robert Richardson on Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Batigne’s camera is energetic, aggressive and goes out of its way to show this world.  Color is solid and consistent, while definition is better than usual for a foreign film.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has Pro Logic surrounds and sounds good, which makes sense, as it was a Dolby analog SR release.  Extras include an extensive interview with Suleiman (nearly 42 minutes) where he offers his thoughts on the film, actors, audience and cinema today.  This is interesting.  You also get two trailers for the film, one U.S., the other French.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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