It’s a film that should be appreciated by all audiences.

by Martin Hafer

Making a film in Israel with Palestinians is problematic. After all, the film could be seen as either too pro-Jewish or too pro-Palestinian by some and as a result, lose a major portion of the potential audience. However, Sayed Kashua’s story in A Borrowed Identity manages to create a movie that all sides of the ideological perspective could appreciate and enjoy.

The story is about a Palestinian boy, Eyad. You see him grow to his teen years through the first portion of the film and he’s so bright that he’s offered admission to the best school in Israel–and he’ll be the only Palestinian in an otherwise all Jewish program. The film follows the young man through high school from his early awkward time to acceptance by his peers until he ultimately does something a Palestinian isn’t supposed to do–fall in love with a Jewish girl. At first, things look great for Eyad and his girlfriend, Naomi. However, she is hesitant to tell her parents about her boyfriend and he’s also hesitant to tell his family as well. When he loses her over this, he decides on another path…and it involves pretending to be Jewish so that his life will be easier.

A Borrowed Identity
Directed by
Eran Riklis
Tawfeek Barhom, Razi Gabareen, Yaël Abecassis
Release Date
2 November 2014
Martin’s Grade: B+

There is a lot to like about this film as is touches on some divisive topics. It’s not just the Palestinian/Jewish conflict but there’s also a subplot involving quality of life issues for a friend of Eyad. Yonathan has Multiple Sclerosis and through the course of the movie, he becomes less and less functional until he’s just a shell of who he once was. All of this makes for a fascinating film that I enjoyed and which was mostly well crafted. I say mostly because Eyad was played so incredibly detached and non-emotive through so much of the film–a bit too much for me, as this tended to make him seem less real. But the good far outweighs the bad with this one and it’s a film that is totally unique and captivating.