The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

( M) THE el­e­gant cover for the DVD release of The Band’s Visit is dec­o­rated with so many in­ter­na­tional award lo­gos they look like medals on a proud gen­eral’s chest. Per­haps that is as it should be, for this film is a rare beast in­deed: a gen­tle, quiet com­edy that goes out of its way to haunt with stun­ning vi­su­als of or­di­nary places and leaves many si­lences to speak for them­selves. What a re­lief it is to watch some­thing not crammed with di­a­logue, a film that doesn’t bat­ter us to death with action se­quences, spe­cial ef­fects and snappy plot points. The band of the ti­tle is the very proud eight-mem­ber Alexan­dria Cer­e­mo­nial Or­ches­tra, an Egyp­tian troupe hired to play a con­cert at the Arab Cul­tural Cen­tre in the town of Pe­tah Tikva, Is­rael, en­emy ter­ri­tory for them. We first meet them as they wait pa­tiently to be col­lected at an Is­raeli air­port in their smartly for­mal pow­der-blue suits. When no­body turns up to col­lect them, the preter­nat­u­rally calm Taw­fiq ( Sas­son Gabai), who leads the band, is de­ter­mined they will mas­ter their fate. Un­for­tu­nately they jump on a bus bound for the sim­i­lar sound­ing Beit Hatikva, which turns out to be a tiny desert com­mu­nity with a sin­gle cafe. Here they meet forth­right cafe owner Dina ( Ronit Elk­a­betz), who is at first a lit­tle hos­tile, then wryly amused, and fi­nally vamp­ishly se­duc­tive. ‘‘ There is no Arab cul­ture, no Is­raeli cul­ture, no cul­ture at all,’’ she tells a per­plexed Taw­fiq. My only quib­ble with this slow-paced gem is that you have to wait un­til the cred­its roll to hear the band play to­gether.

EX­TRAS: In­ter­view; trailer

Ian Cuth­bert­son

Mad­man ( 85 min­utes) $ 29.95

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