Title: Heaven Without People
Director: Lucien Bourjeily
Starring: Farah Shaer, Jean-Paul Hage, Jenny Gebara
Runtime: 1hr 31min
What It Is: In this Lebanese drama, what appears to be a normal family gathers for the first time in two years and attempts at celebrating the Easter holiday when a suspicious event causes old tensions to rise and tempers to flair.
What We Think: What certainly comes to mind is this film’s likeness in its delivery of similar racial, societal, and political themes of something such as Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. That being said, Heaven Without People does quite a few interesting things with its subject matter(s) at hand. Filmed with a certain naturalistic intricacy that feels like almost like a home movie (but doesn’t look like one) and believably realistic acting, the experience of watching this film makes the viewer feel quite involved. In some parts. Among others, it can be a tad bit of a bore in being bogged down by seemingly plain conversations between what aren’t very endearing characters that I have little interest in paying attention to. Otherwise, this film is a little technical wonder as its observant visual style and camerawork lend to impressive long-takes and success in juggling all its characters and their dilemmas.
Our Grade: C, While it’s not an utterly rewarding watch, I do believe this film has the potential still to fuel many in-depth conversations, namely considering the state of affairs surrounding the country and its individuals. It does lag quite a bit (especially considering it can be more difficult to understand as an American) but is somewhat redeemed within the pace picking up in the third act. I would recommend it if you championed The Salesman—but had the film not been foreign and subsequently subtitled, I would have definitely been multitasking.