Divine Intervention (2003) - Synopsis

Palestinian director and performer Elia Suleiman delivers a darkly comic masterpiece. Suleiman utilizes irreverence, wit, mysticism and insight to craft an intense, hallucinogenic and extremely adept exploration of the dreams and nightmares of Palestinians and Israelis living in uncertain times.

Subtitled, "A Chronicle of Love and Pain," Divine Intervention follows ES, is a character played by and clearly based upon the filmmaker himself. ES is burdened with a sick father, a stalled screenplay and an unrequited love affair with a beautiful Palestinian woman (Manal Khader) living in Ramallah. An Israeli checkpoint on the Nazareth-Ramallah road forces the couple to rendezvous in an adjacent parking lot. Their relationship and the absurd situations around them serve as metaphors for the lunacy of larger cultural problems, and the result is palpable, bottled personal and political rage.

Suleiman's wry chronicle sketches his hometown of Nazareth as a place consumed by ferocious absurdity, where residents harbor feuds, dump garbage into neighbors' yards, and surreptitiously block access roads. Characters transgress rules with abandon - stealing forbidden cigarette breaks in a hospital corridor, for example. Yet the film's acerbic, absurdist sense of humor (earning comparisons to Jacques Tati and Nanni Moretti), in a situation where death seems to lurk at every corner, and Suleiman's own eye-popping directorial interventions, are what earned him the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes.