Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Peripatetic police band holes up in the boonies.

The Band's Visit (2007) on IMDb

Plot Overview

band lineupWhen the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, an octet in full regalia, is left in the lurch at an Israeli air­port, they decide to bus their way to their gig opening an Arab Culture Center in Petah Tikvah. The ticket girl instead books them to Bet Hatikvah—the Arabic speaker buying the tickets couldn't pronounce the ‘p’ sound in the Hebrew name Petah so he said ‘B—’.

They arrive in this desert no-man's-land on the last bus of the day, an alien curiosity with no one to welcome them, no place to stay, and no local currency to buy food with. A pretty, blowsy, Israeli restaurateur Dina (Ronit Elkabetz) feeds them at her greasy spoon and divvies up over­night guest privileges with a couple of her regulars. Some­body might get lucky … or not.


“The Band's Visit” (“Bikur Ha-Tizmoret”) could have come right from the play­book Ecclesiastes (The Preacher) of renowned Hebrew King Solomon discussing the vanity of life. (Eccl. 7:13) “Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?” Whether one calls it God, Allah, the gods, or fate, these musicians have been seemingly dumped by forces beyond their control into one dicey situation.

(Eccl. 7:14) “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.” These guys have had good times, but this isn't one of them. They complain they didn't join the group to starve. Yes, but no one could fore­see all contingencies.

(Eccl. 7:15) “All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.” Band­master Lt Col Tawfiq Zacharya (Sasson Gabal) is hard on his charges. Three years ago his sensitive son couldn't take it any more, so he took his own life. That saddened Tawfiq, but he's still alive and kicking as he continues to be hard on the band members. It was Tawfiq's kind wife who died of grief. Go figure.

(Eccl. 7:16) “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” Tawfiq was such an independent know-it-all that he gave up on seeking help from his embassy that's there to smooth over matters; out of self-reliance he led his band off to the middle of nowhere.

(Eccl. 7:17) “Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?” His son for his part, how­ever, should not have taken that irreversible step of killing him­self. And Dina should not sleep around with passing musicians, not with all the STDs going around.

(Eccl. 7:18) “It is good that thou shouldest take hold of this; yea, also from this with­draw not thine hand: for he that feareth God shall come forth of them all.” Tikva in Hebrew means hope. One resident exemplifies hope more than the rest as he patiently awaits his girl­friend's call at a pay phone night after night. Never loses it. He has his own inner bearing which for lack of better explanation, we'll chalk up to a sublime orientation (i.e. fear of God.)

(Eccl. 7:19-20) “Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city. For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” Say we had ten super­heroes in our city. We'd be lookin' good with all those champions fighting for truth, justice, and the “American” way. But if Super­man sins just like any man, then he'd let us down some­times. We're better off with wise leaders strengthened by their wisdom.

Here we find two examples of townies' savoir faire with the ladies: unemployed Itzik (Rubi Moscovich) a musician who'd swept a girl off her feet to marry him, and a disco dancer at the roller rink who had all the right moves with his disco girl. Itzik did give good advice to Simon (Kalifa Natour) on his unfinished concerto, but he had lost his touch with women when his wife would fight with him and leave. The disco dancer couldn't be bothered to help his friend Papi (Shlomi Avraham) who was excessively shy with his blind date. Haled (Saleh Bakri) of the Egyptian band, along for the ride, was able to silently impart the needed wisdom to Papi.

Production Values

This artsy flick, “” was directed by Eran Kolirin who also wrote it based on his own earlier screen­play. It stars Sasson Gabal, Ronit Elkabetz, and Saleh Bakri. Gabal plays Tawfiq the band leader. He's not Egyptian but can pass for one except some­times with his Palestinian Arab dialect. Both he and Ronit Elkabetz as Dina gave superb performances. The rest of the cast is also good.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for brief strong language. The musicians stood out in their gaudy powder blue uniforms. Action is vanishingly small. The dialogue is halting, and ‘silent as a mouse’ fails to fully describe the gaps in speech. Not overly dramatic is an under­statement. It's full of subtlety with room to appreciate it. There's no sound­track to manipulate our emotions: just source music and in one place the standard roller rink numbers.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I liked this movie a lot, and I liked the theater version better than the commercial recording. The former included a “Who's on first” type exchange at the purchasing of tickets and also some morning-after guilty looks that were missing from the store bought disc. It's an artsy flick that will appeal to certain audiences, not an over­whelming tour de force. If you know your own mind, act accordingly.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: No action, no adventure Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Video Occasion: Good for Groups Special effects: None that I could see. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.