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'Amreeka' chronicles Arab American story

Hollywood Wrap with George Pennacchio
September 4, 2009 4:55:35 PM PDT
"Amreeka" is one of the new movies in theatres today. It's a story about a mother and her son coming to America, hoping life will be better here. If that sounds like movies you've already seen, I thought the same thing. But it's where these immigrants are coming from, and when, that makes this story different.

"Amreeka" tells the story of a single mom and her teenage son who immigrate from the West Bank to the midwest. They move in with some family members who've made a life in Illinois.

The year is 1991. This film takes place during the first gulf war.

Nisreen Faour (niz-reen fah-or) is absolutely captivating as the film's lead, Muna. It's a beautifully layered performance that I hope gets attention come awards time.

You'll grow to love her character and root for her as she tries to figure out where this new life is taking her.

She is educated and skilled but the only job she's able to get is in the fast food world.

The film also has a charming storyline involving Muna and her son's lonely high school principal.

"Amreeka" was written and directed by an Arab American, and it's the first Arab American film to get theatrical distribution in the U.S.

It aims to give us an honest look at what it's like being Arab in America, and what it must be like when the dreams of parents and their children are no longer the same.

"Amreeka" certainly has its serious side, but there is a lot of humor and heart here.

I sometimes found myself just smiling as I watched the story unfold, thinking Muna is somebody I'd like to know.

"Amreeka" left me with a good feeling when it was over. Despite the struggles you see, and some of them are universal, you also see warmth and hope, and characters who care about one another. This was a pleasant surprise.

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