LFF 2020 ‘200 Meters’ Review: Road Movie From Palestine to Israel

Mustafa (Ali Suliman) is separated from his family by the Israeli West Bank barrier wall. He crosses over each day to work and visit the family but each night is forced to communicate with them across the wall via phone and lights. He is an attentive father but the distance is creating tensions between him and his family. One day Mustafa finds himself on the wrong side of the wall without a working permit to cross as his son enters hospital after being struck by a car. Mustafa joins a group of desperate figures all determined to get across the border. However not everyone in the car is as they seem.

200 Meters works as a compelling thriller, an engaging character study and a very interesting political drama. The Israeli-Palestine tension permeates the narrative as Mustafa pragmatically puts his duty to his family ahead of his sense of cultural identity. He is unable to fully sympathise with the Palestinian freedom fighter he travels with, because his politics are threatening his chances of getting to his family.

The building tension as the group begins to disintegrate is palpable. Ali Suliman is fantastic as the desperate father who at all times pushes the narrative forwards, making more and more questionable decisions to do so. He’s supported by an eclectic group of travel companions consisting of petty criminals, a suspicious documentary film maker and her subject, a Palestinian freedom fighter and a young man who just wants work. Each poses a dilemma to Mustafa and each reflects on the complex nature of this border and the impact it has on the lives of those who live on either side of this wall.

200 Meters is structured like a traditional road movie with a group of desperate misfits trying to find deliverance together. The politics are not simplistic, the characterisation is natural and the sense of danger and tension pervasive. It’s a very accessible film about the complex situation that literally tears families apart, but not one that offers easy answers.

Five Stars

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