200 Meters (2020) Review: An Intriguing and Earnest Memoir of Conflicts

200 meters is a feature film written by Palestinian director Ameen Nayfeh. Apart from the direction, the film is also written by him. The film premiered at the 77th Venice International Film Festival in September 2020. It won the BNL People’s Choice Audience Award in the Venice Days competition. The film also received the ICFT UNESCO Gandhi Medal at the 51st International Film Festival of India, which was held in January 2021. Produced by May Odeh, the film has a runtime of 1 hour 36 minutes. It stars Ali Suliman, Anna Unterberger, Lana Zreik and others in various roles.

The synopsis of the film on Netflix reads as follows, “The Separation wall sits between him and his family. Denied Entry on a technicality, a Palestinian will stop at nothing to reach his injured son.” The film narrates the story of Mustafa ( played by Ali Suliman). He is separated from his family by 200 meters. It is a Separation Wall demarcating the Israeli regions from the Occupied territories. Mustafa lives on the Palestinian-controlled Occupied Territories whereas his wife Salwa(played by Lana Zreik) and their children live on the Israeli side.

200 meters review does not contain spoilers –

200 metres starts with a shot of a man smoking, he longingly stares at the other side of a wall. Even without any dialogues, the emotion and the hidden desire of the protagonist are perfectly portrayed in 200 meters. As we enter the cinematic universe, one gets an idea of a normal family. A middle-aged father, living his life with his wife and children.

They have this sense of normalcy in their daily routine–he is plagued by backaches, his daughter is overfed by her grandmother, his son spends most of the days glued to the television. Like most of the films, he also has some financial problems. The neighbours are quite friendly and nothing seems to be wrong in the first glimpse.

200 meters review
200 meters review

However, something seems off as 200 meters proceeds. We realise that although they are a family, they do not live in the same house. Mustafa lives on one end of the division whereas his children and wife are on the other. They communicate via phone calls and by turning the lights on and off as a sort of signal.

The arrangement seems to be working out fine for both of the parties. He obtains a work permit now and then and crosses the border to visit his family frequently. However, this separation is not a compulsion. It is Mustafa himself who had not applied for the permit. But, Mustafa considers such rules quite silly and uses his permit to apply for jobs and earn his daily wages. 

However, things go quite haywire one fine day. Mustafa gets a phone call from the other side–his son was involved in an accident and had to be admitted to the hospital. Unable to renew his expired permit he asks one of his friends to illegally cross the border. A number of people are also smuggled in the same car. . There’s Rami (Mahmoud Abu Eita), Kifah (Motaz Malhees) and Anne (Anna Unterberger), The rest of the film revolves around the various hardships and experiences that this group faces together. 

Also Read: Carolin Kebekus The Last Christmas Special (2021) Review: Endearing and Hilarious

200 meters review
200 meters review

Summing up, 200 meters

The film does a commendable job of beautifully addressing political and emotional conflicts. The cast does a wonderful job of bringing life to the characters. We also experience the deep anxiety of the travellers as they challenge their fate to face the security and their inner conflicts to cross the border.

200 meters is now streaming on Netflix.

Also read: Amsterdam to Anatolia (2019) Review: Adam Bakri-Clara Khoury’s Star Crossed Love Affair

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Overall

SUMMARY

200 meters is an intriguing memoir of conflicts that keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout.

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