For many people, the immigration issue is something they will never have to consider. For some, others are just an annoyance, and they might even actively dislike seeing people from other parts of the world living near them. However, for the people living it, for those that need to leave their countries for whatever reason, it is one of the hardest things a human being can go through. Especially when you have to do it alone, and you feel like nobody wants you there. Jacir, is a new film that tackles this precise subject in a very effective manner.
Jacir is written and directed by Waheed AlQawasmi and stars Malek Rahbani, Lorraine Bracco, Tutweezy, and Leila Almas Rose. The film tells the story of the titular, Jacir, a young man who has arrived in the USA from Syria, where the war has basically torn his life apart. Jacir wishes to begin a new life in the USA, but he receives only conflict and obstacles from every angle. Nevertheless, Jacir faces these obstacles with a positive attitude but as we all know, everyone has their limits.
Cultural shock is one of the first things that an immigrant has to face in their new country. We are all humans, and we all have feelings, dreams, nightmares, and such, but cultures are very different. Every country and every region of every country has its own customs and traditions. So, being able to adapt yourself to your new environment might be the most important skill an immigrant can have. Without this skill, every single situation becomes a struggle, and there is enough struggle in life to add more to it.
For some people, that struggle is inevitable. So when the movie places its protagonists in these very normal situations but puts them into the perspective of someone who isn’t from that environment, you realize that things are just not as simple as they seem. The movie does a good job at creating drama and tension from very small events. Events that for some people are just mundane and irrelevant, but that for Jacir in his condition of immigrant, are very complex and transcendental.
AlQawasmi’s script is very solid. Yes, sometimes the dialogue can feel a bit stiff and forced, but the situations the characters find themselves in feel very real. Maybe the inspiration comes from AlQawasmi’s own experiences, but they are very well executed in the final film. There is a bit of everything in Jacir, the variety of people is large, and so it feels refreshing to see a movie that explores just how many takes there are surrounding the topic. Many other films feel very one-sided, and end up depicting certain groups in the exact same vein as you don’t want other groups to be depicted.
Visually, the movie feels very standard. AlQawasmi and his team of filmmakers don’t try to do anything flashy when it comes to the presentation, and this is perfectly fine. The very understated visuals enhance this feeling of reality. In real life, nothing is perfectly framed all the time, so it all feels quite natural, from Jacir going to work, to spending time with his grumpy neighbor. There is some excellent lighting work going on here. The sets never feel like such, and the locations all feel very natural. There is none of that artificial lighting that often takes you out of a movie.
The acting is also quite strong, and it helps to overcome the stiffness of some parts of the dialogue. Malek Rahbani plays Jacir, and he does a perfect job as the protagonist of the film. The actor has a very charming look, and the attitude and demeanor he brings to the character of Jacir feel quite authentic. You can feel that even when Jacir puts on his positive attitude when facing certain obstacles, there is still some fear, anger, and confusion behind the positive mask that can be seen. The character doesn’t need to express this in words, Rahbani just shows it through his performance.
Lorraine Bracco also does an amazing job as good old Meryl. You wouldn’t expect anything else from an actress such as Bracco. Here she is creating a character that is very difficult to like, in the beginning, but then you start seeing some quite magnificent things behind it. By the end, you will understand her character completely, and you might even want to spend some time with her despite her flaws. This is the strength of Jacir as a movie; it really shows that we all have our own stories and there is a reason why we are what we are.
Jacir is a very solid film. You might not get big explosions or fantastic adventures with aliens, but you will get something much more important by watching it; understanding, and emotion. There is revelation and discovery in this film, and that is an amazing accomplishment. This might be one of the best films of the year, especially when dealing with a subject as complicated as this one.