The Palestinian movie “The Time That Remains” is a riveting film written and directed by Elia Suleiman about his life and his father’s life. In this historic drama, with the use of a unique method of storytelling, Suleiman unfolds the life of his father and how he fought against Israel.
To create this film Suleiman used his father’s journal, letter’s from his mother to exiled relatives and his own memories to piece together this tale. Starring Elia Suleiman, as himself, Saleh Bakri, as his father Fuad, and Shafika Bajjali as one version of his mother.
The movie starts out in the present day, driving in a car. The passenger is unknown and is only to be revealed at the end of the movie, helping to tie together the start and end.
Then a quick transition from the dark car to a light city with militants marching past in 1948.
Throughout the course of the film, over a half decade worth of life is shown. From when Fuad was first a resistance fighter, rebelling against Israel by supplying and making guns, to when his son, Elia, was a child, to Elia’s teenage years and then to a close when he is an old man. Except for the first scene things are shown in a chronological order. When Elia is a child we see him being scolded, foreshadowing how he will later get in trouble with the government for allegedly ripping up an Israeli flag.
The approach to filming this movie is quite different than many seen in American culture. There was little dialogue, and in the end, hardly a word was exchanged between the main characters.
No narrator spinning the tale was present, the events that unfolded told the story well enough without needing to be buffered by extra words. With the simple actions and looks conveyed from actor to actor Suleiman spun his story brilliantly.
In fact the silence of the film, as well as the repetition of a few key things, added in different places a sort of dry sense of comedic humor. The transitions from time periods were quick but generally well done and perfectly executed by the actors with key pieces of humor interlaced with the telling of times changed. The costumes, sets, and actors were all at their best. And “The Time That Remains” is a gem of a film. Wonderfully acted, directed, and written.
This was a rather intellectual film, making one think and infer what was happening instead of saying outright what was happening or who did what. If one appreciates a movie that makes you think than I highly suggest you watch this, for you will adore it. If not, than I doubt this is the film for you.