Published Feb 14, 2008By all rights, this gentle comedy shouldnt really work the thought of cute Egyptians finding hospitality in a remote Israeli town conjures terrifying images of saccharine condescension. But somehow the movie manages to be both credible and reasonably engrossing, a modest but definite success.
The eponymous band are a police orchestra from Egypt, in Israel to play at an Arab cultural centre. But their ride doesnt show and they wind up stranded in the middle of nowhere, where they find a sympathetic ear from a divorcee with a snack bar. Thus the uptight but decent leader of the band and the bold but soulful restaurateur get to know each other, sharing opinions, memories and secrets while the rest of the players muddle through.
The film doesnt come up with anything shattering but its pleasingly droll in its humour and genuinely unaffected in its drama if the movie doesnt blow your mind its surprisingly absorbing without insulting your intelligence. Shrewdly, the film avoids broad exposition and "big scenes in favour of a sense of proportion, which is bolstered by the humorously micro-managed mise-en-scène. It even manages to sell a hoary old chestnut: the lothario who helps out a nebbish in love. Understanding its triviality and its comic potential, the filmmakers dont promise too much and deliver more than youd expect.
Understated, smartly directed and aware of its very gentle touch, its a time-killer in the very best sense. Its something that doesnt demand too much but still manages to keep you interested, watching and feeling like you havent been cheated, unlike so many other movies before it. (Mongrel Media)