In the Shadows of the City | Chicago Reader

In the Shadows of the City

In this wartime drama from Lebanon (2000), writer-director Jean Khalil Chamoun focuses on two periods in the life of a man named Rami—the mid-70s, when as a child he and his family flee their village for Beirut right after civil strife begins, and the late 80s, when he's an ambulance driver caught between the Muslim and Christian militias that've divided up the city. The first part, with its portrayal of an impressionable innocent witnessing the evaporation of neighborhood camaraderie, is stronger than the second, which suffers from dialogue that sounds like political speeches and a heroism that's too predictable, and the split makes it seem as if little happened to the characters in the intervening years. Chamoun's pacing is also erratic, which dampens his antiwar appeal. 104 min. With Majdi Machmouchi.

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