Understanding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not easy even for those of us that once lived there. “Private”, an Italian film, looks at the conflict and tries to make it more understandable. “Private” shows the horror and pain that a Palestinian family goes through. Under occupation one loses his freedom.
The plot is simple—a Palestinian family with five children lives near Israeli settlements. The wife, Samia, wants to leave as does one of her teen sons. However, Mohammed, the father/husband, not only does not want to go and is adamant about staying. Two of the children want to fight but Mohammed favors passive aggression as a non-violent witness. Suddenly Israeli soldiers burst into their home and take over the second floor. The family is locked in the living room at night allowing them almost no mobility. We see how the occupation affects the children and their parent’s marriage. It is through daughter, Miriam that we see the Israeli forces and how they behave. The eldest son, Jamal, is so angered that he sets a trap with a grenade. Realizing that chaos and death are not far away, the family calls to Allah for help.
What makes this film so special is that it shows the weaknesses and dignities of both sides without favoritism for either. Mohammed’s family is one of privilege that has been reduced by the occupation. I actually felt badly when the Israelis invade the home. The film is rich with excellent acting by the cast which is both Jewish and Muslim. Mohammed Bakri is absolutely brilliant as the father who subtlely conveys a commanding presence as well as man who has been humiliated in front of his family and does not know how to recover his authority. He struggles to keep his family from harm while at the same time attempting to maintain a sense of dignity in the face of insult.
We get a peek at the reality of the Israeli occupation and we see what we probably did not know before. Political realities are powerful and this film is powerful. It will not “entertain” you in the way other films do but it will certainly give you something to think about,