By: Addison Wylie
Filmmaker Naji Abu Nowar marks a departure from short films with Theeb, a gripping slow burn that confidently risks it all to challenge itself with different genres. The boldness often profits this tense flick.
At first, it’s a character study ala Beasts of the Southern Wild, albeit told more conventionally. While its composure helps the film with its accessibility towards the audience, it doesn’t contain any stimulating eruptions through its presentation. However, Jacid Eid’s exceptional lead performance is filled with subtle nuances hinting at how Theeb’s inquisitiveness never rests. Especially when he sneaks aboard a dicey adventure.
Then, Nowar inserts tense action with real consequences before turning Theeb into a taut survival film. Nowar does a terrific job at conveying danger and its aftereffects through rivetingly choreographed sequences, standout cinematography, and excellent addled performances.
And then, the film slows itself down even more. Eid maintains our interest, but the film’s final act is a flabby drama with flat characterization, redundant dialoguing, and generous silences. The setbacks end up restraining an otherwise fascinating conquest through a youngster’s discovery about what it takes to be a man.
Flaws aside, Theeb is still worth checking out. Naji Abu Nowar’s debut feature film is a solid entry to a fresh career.
Theeb screens at TIFF on:
Monday, September 8 at 7:15 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
Wednesday, September 10 at 4:30 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
Saturday, September 13 at 10:00 a.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
Runtime: 100 minutes
For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.
Check out the Theeb TIFF page here.
Buy tickets here.
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