Time flies by fast, I wanted to write this film review almost two months ago after watching the film in Abu Dhabi’s film festival end of October but didn’t have the chance.
I remember that we arrived late to a big hall full of people at the luxurious Emirates Palace on Abu Dhabi. We were rushing despite of my awe of the place with walls tinted with gold, we had no time for that, we wanted to catch the film. But we were not the only ones who were late, the parking lot, elevator, and stairs were full of other Jordanians rushing with us to reach the hall. I was thinking to myself, typical Jordanians, we are always late!
Once we entered the hall and got to our seats, we were mesmerised by the stunning scenery of wadi rum. We missed the first 15 minutes, but something about the image quality on screen captured out attention immediately. Few seconds later and I felt amused by the Jordanian Beduin strong accent which felt familiar and weird at the same time. Later on, I felt myself getting attached to little Theeb and following his adventure in the wilderness of Jordan’s beautiful desert.
To be honest with you, the film felt slow, but that was totally fine because of the scenery that fills the gaps when there is no action. I do understand that the story was initially written as a short film and could see that now that it is stretched into a full feature. I’d personally classify “Theeb” in the same category of last year’s Sandra Bullock “Gravity” and 2012 Ang Lee film “Life of Pie”. Theeb doesn’t fall short in quality of these hollywood blockbusters and that explains its huge success in international film festivals around the world. The film is done with quality unprecedented in Jordanian cinema. It shows how far we reached with Jordanian talents maturing experience over the past few years. It makes sense knowing that some of the cast members have worked on blockbuster hollywood movies before (Read my interview with Yanal Kassay, first assistant director of Theeb).
The story of Theeb is in par of “Gravity” and “Life of Pie” as well. A human story that has a subtle message. Unlike Sandra Bullock, little Theeb wasn’t lost in space, trying to find his way to earth, and unlike Pi Patel, he wasn’t stranded with a Tiger on a boat floating across the ocean, but his journey was not easier, and his struggle to save his own life was even harsher, not because of the difficult terrain of Wadi Rum, but because of cruelty of his fellow species that often tops the cruelty of nature.
At the end of the film we all stood up in awe and pride, clapping, happy to watch such a quality Jordanian production. Jordan’s film industry is yet to mature, but Theeb is definitely a big step forward.