From Lebanon, comes a very moving and affecting film that focuses on the human impact of the the 1982 Lebanon War, from the perspective of the people, simply trying to live their normal lives. Writer/director Oualid Mouaness tells a fictional story that feels very real and relatable by taking place within the confines of a school. The movie does a solid job of developing its characters, as they witness and process the alarming events taking place around them. As war is erupting all around them, the faculty and staff of a Lebanese school does what they can to get through their last day of school, but eventually must make sure that the children get out safely to their homes.
The background of the war involves the tensions between Lebanon and Israel. With being already divided, due to civil war, the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel begin a war which further takes a further toll on the country. In this movie, tensions are running high, but the citizens of Beirut try to maintain their maintain some semblance of normalcy. As for the children, they have only a very rough idea of what is happening in their nation. In fact, they are mostly focused on the things that make them happy and content.
Wissam (Mohamad Dalli), a smart and hard-working young boy, not only hopes to do well in his final exams, his romantic longings for his classmate Joanna (Gia Madi) drive him to finally tell her how he really feels. At the beginning of the day, he slips an anonymous love letter in her locker, and has goals of revealing himself as her admirer before the end of the day. Meanwhile, Wissam’s teacher Yesmine (Nadine Labaki) is stressing out because her younger brother has chosen to get involved in the conflict that is about to change the course of everyone’s day.
My only complaint about the film is that a little too much of the mundane activities of a school day get way too much attention. This takes away from some of the tension of the film, and makes some of the events repetitive and tedious. Still, director Mouaness and his editor do some great work, when it is most necessary to increase the suspense and apprehensiveness of the day. Overall, I very much liked this movie, in that it mostly disgards any political leanings regarding the war that is about to take place, and gives the audience the impact that the impending doom and violence has on the characters who are simply trying to live.
The movie has some great performances by the cast, but appropriately, the two standouts are the protagonists Yesmine (Nadine Labaki) and Wissam (Mohamad Dalli) who give such naturally beautiful performances. 1982 opens exclusively in select theaters nationwide beginning June 10 in New York (at the Quad Cinema), followed by Los Angeles (at Laemmle Royal & a few other locations) on June 24th. The film will then expand into additional theaters in other markets throughout the summer. It is a lovely and haunting film I highly recommend.