It’s hard to try and cover the multiple narratives of Ajami’s storyline. Divided into chapters following the lives of Jewish, Muslim and Christian families living in and around the Ajami area, the subject matter is constantly shifting, thumping you in the face every five minutes with a new, heart wrenching story of injustice. Yes, it’s ANOTHER foreign film that we should all go and watch because we’ll learn something new about the world. But really, it’s a film that you should all go and watch, because you’ll learn something new about the world, or at least see it captured beautifully.
The different family groups portrayed throughout Ajami all have one connecting strand – they lose a loved one in incidents motivated almost entirely by race and religion. Whilst it might feel like this is a story that’s been done to death, Ajami manages to capture the common humanity of each these family groups. The scripting is so fluid, so natural (well, the subtitles make it feel like it is), that some scenes would seem to step into the realm of documentary making – a family talking to a journalist about their missing son transmit their grief so convincingly that this could well be a fly on the wall insight into Ajami’s social issues.
Along with the brain-fizzing acting and mind-engaging script, the direction and editing (yep, you even notice how good the editing is) of the film are extremely satisfying to watch. If it weren’t for the fact that you probably wouldn’t have a flipping clue what was going on, I’d recommend you turn the subtitles off, since they draw your eye away from the blur of the drama. Settings flick between day and night, urban and homely, tranquil and chaotic – but at no point do you feel lost in a whirl of badly paced film making.
If you’ve got a good two hours to kill one evening, and fancy watching something that will cause you to think, then give Ajami a go. It isn’t a thorough education of what’s going down in Gaza, Tel Aviv and the West Bank, but it’s a bloody good depiction of the plight of the people caught up in it.