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A Borrowed Identity 

Wednesday, Jul 22 2015
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Originally titled Dancing Arabs, Eran Riklis' A Borrowed Identity is as caught between tones as its protagonist is caught between cultures. Set in the 1980s, Eyad (Tawfeek Barhom) is a gifted Palestinian teenager whose father Salah (Ali Suliman, who gave one of 2012's best performances in The Attack) has a past which may or may not involve terrorism, depending on how one defines the word. Because he's very smart, Eyad is accepted into the Jerusalem Arts and Science Academy, where he discovers that his intelligence is not enough to overcome the prejudice he encounters as an Arab in an Israeli school. He does find friendship in a classmate (Michael Moshonov) succumbing to muscular dystrophy, and a young love with Naomi (Daniel Kitsis), an affair that must be kept on the down-low thanks to her mother, who'd rather Naomi be a cancer-stricken lesbian than date an Arab. What could be interpreted as the identity-borrowing of the title doesn't really happen until the third act. There are many decade signifiers (Eyad and Naomi watch Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, which should be required of all characters in movies set in the 1980s), and there are hints of a John Hughes around the edges, but A Borrowed Identity borrows from various genres without finding one of its own.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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