Rating 3 out of 5. This is one of these movies that once, again, proves Johns assertion that Rotten Tomatoes are inclined to overrate movies, as it gives this movie 92% versus the Metacritic, more realistic ( in my opinion) 6.4 out of 10. The movie is available on Netflix. The movie was made in Australia and won numerous awards there.
The movie is loosely based on the early life of Osamah Sami, as a refugee from Iran in Australia. Osamah’s parents were both Iraqis who had moved to Iran, where Osamah was born. When the family were accepted by Australia as refugees they settled in an Iraqi community and the father assumed the position of head cleric in the local mosque. The family were caught up in the Iran/ Iraq eight year war and ultimately sought refuge elsewhere. The talented Osamah wrote the script and also plays the lead role, Ali.
The movie is billed as a romantic comedy but I believe it also attempts to have a more serious look at the lives of refugees from a particular ethnic, religious group trying to adapt to life in their adopted country. Indeed, I believe this may be the major problem with the movie, in that, it it cannot quite decide what it wants to be, comedy or more serious in-depth look at conflicts in an immigrant ethnic group. Because of this conflict I found the movie, at times, somewhat disconnected and directionless. Even with these problems,the movie, if just taken as a romantic comedy is quite enjoyable.
I like ethnic movies as they can show the daily lives of typically tight knit religious groups and how they may differ from our own lives. However, what we usually find and as shown in this movie, is, their lives are not that much different. The older folks in this community are trying to hold on to their customs and traditions while the younger generation is trying to assimilate into the new culture without offending the customs of the parents. I believe when the movie addresses the generational conflicts that exists in emigrant/ refugee families and communities it does it well but just not enough time is spent on these issues,
The movie is most successful when considered purely as a romantic comedy. Ali’s relationship with his love interest, Dianne, played by newcomer, Helena Sawires is the main theme of the movie and starts with Ali telling a lie about his grades to please his father and impress fellow student Dianne. Standard romantic comedy stuff. However, in this case her family (who own the local fish and chip shop) are Libyan and are considered somewhat inferior to the Iraqis, which is quite natural as the Iraqis represent the majority of the community. Because of the the difference in ethic origin the couple find it hard to get together. In addition, it becomes more complicated when the family arranges for an acceptable bride for Ali. As in all good romantic comedies the movie has a happy ending.
In addition to this movie, Osamah Sami, also wrote a critically acclaimed book ‘Good Muslim Boy’ which was written as a tribute to his father. He also was invited to perform his father’s play about Saddam Hussein, in America but he and the rest of the cast were denied entry to the United States. This incident is briefly covered in the movie. Obviously, this movie sends a very clear message regarding one of the most controversial topics of the day, namely, Muslim refugees and their assimilation in to the western culture. The success of Osamah Sami, as an author, scriptwriter and actor. in Australia, would appear to validate the potential worth of refugees to their adopted country.