CIFF 37: The Lebanese Connection

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Lord Edward Montagu inherited his lordship at age 2½, when his father died and left him with the responsibility of a 10,000-acre estate. One of England’s great homes, the property was virtually insolvent following WWII. Montagu, then 25, opened his home to the public, personally guiding the tours of his ancestral home. Disaster struck when he was arrested and convicted of homosexual activity in the 1950s. Losing not only the family’s reputation, but also his fiancé, Montagu rehabilitates all with style and vigor. Despite a sometimes loud and intrusive soundtrack that overpowers the talking heads, this is a visually beautiful film and a terrific story. Lord Montagu receives my first A rating.

The Valley of Tears gives viewers a compelling story within a story. Marie, a book editor, begins receiving anonymous envelopes at work, each containing a few pages of the memoir of a Palestinian survivor of the massacres of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon in 1982. After learning the author’s identity, Marie befriends him, but not soon enough to prevent his awful act of revenge—fulfilling his mother’s wishes. Marie travels to Lebanon to uncover the truth about the massacre and Joseph’s past. Good story, if somewhat melodramatic at times—B+.

Detroit Unleaded—it’s not hard to watch beautiful young people, in this instance Lebanese-American Sami and Saj, the present-day stand-ins for Romeo and Juliet. Sami is preparing to leave Detroit for the greener pastures in California when his father is fatally shot in the gas station he owns. Sami takes over, behind bullet-proof glass. Enter Saj making a delivery of long-distance phone cards; Sami is smitten. “Detroit Unleaded” is a delightful romantic comedy and a lovely way to finish a long day in the dark—B+.

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