“90 Minute War” – Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Review (2.5 Stars)

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by Christo Stevens, Senior Editor

Before walking into my screening of The 90 Minute War I read a brief synopsis of the film. When I discovered the movie was a mockumentary style comedy about the Israeli-Palestinian War I was instantly on board. The film, whose premise is brilliantly absurd, revolves around the decision to solve the near-100 year conflict between the two groups by having a good old fashioned soccer match. Israel and Palestine will face off in a game of soccer and the loser must agree to leave the country for good.

Written and directed by Eyal Halfon, 90 Minute War’s greatest accomplishment is its commitment to its concept. Beyond the satirical nature of the premise, the film really does feel like a legitimate documentary following the logistical dealings of this nationwide event. It centers around the two coaches who are in charge of recruiting and training the athletes that will be competing in the game. Israeli actors Moshe Ivgy and Norman Issa play the two coaches. There’s a competitive history between the two that makes for some hilarious back-and-forth trash talk. While there’s not a particular focus on one character or arch (much to the film’s detriment I think), these two do a fine job of anchoring what little story there is. There are some truly funny supporting character moments and all of the actors do a great job of seeming authentic and earnest given the situation.

The film chooses not to focus too much on character… or even comedy for that matter. Much of the laughs come at the beginning when the story is established by showing news anchors and citizens discuss the upcoming event. Clocking in at 90 minutes, which is also the length of a soccer game (hence the title), the film runs out of steam about half way through. After the initial delight of discovering the film’s absurdity, we’re not left with much in terms of laughs or political commentary. The ending, which I had hoped would have something interesting to say about the conflict as a whole, left me wanting way more. While I admire the filmmakers’ decision to follow through on their promise, I wish there was a tad more substance to be found in 90 Minute War.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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