Palestinian Elia Suleiman’s lean, relentlessly deadpan satire, subtitled A Chronicle of Love and Pain
, wears its irony on its sleeve as everyday acts of aggression speak to the far-flung social chaos and sadness perpetuated by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. At the heart of the story is an unrequited love affair between two people who meet at an Israeli checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem and gaze silently as life in their corner of the world unfolds in a series of absurdist vignettes. One man calmly extinguishes the daily firebombing of his house. An Israeli policeman uses a blindfolded prisoner to give directions to lost tourists. And, in the film’s most controversial scene, a female ninja appears at an Israeli target range and uses a metal map of her homeland as her shield. Suleiman’s agitprop, fantasies and political barbs take the shape of Jacques Tati-like misadventures that may be just as offensive to some audiences as they are fascinating and lacerating to others, as the film paints life under occupation as a pressure cooker about to explode.