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It Must Be Heaven (film review)

Cinema going is always a risk. At the moment with the re-opening of the cinemas there seems to be a dearth of product – new product. The BIG films are being held back from launching I guess to ensure a proper audience take-up to ensure a monetary return, as investment due for the risk taken. Fair enough.

So, besides the reprise of many films that have had a proper screen time before the Coronavirus interruption we have been given, in new film, a lot of art film investigations.

IT MUST BE HEAVEN, Directed by Elia Suleiman, in 2019, is one of these. It has had a positive critical response, and I heard Jason Di Rosso rapturing about it on The Screen Show on Radio National.

My addiction urged me to attend.

Elia Suleiman wrote, directed and starred in this project that begins in Palestine, moves to Paris and then New York. It is supposedly a satiric, comic observation that one place is much like the other. The commonality of being human dominates the observations. Suleiman places his character as an observer of the world around him. There is little dialogue and much of the work is made up of animated facial responses to indicate us to places of personal contemplation.

I am not sure of the persona that Suleiman projects: for instance I thought the Paris section spent an inordinate time with the camera directed at the bodies of the young women of Paris passing him by in the streets. I found it cumulatively an uncomfortable experience. a kind of soft-pornography.

Some have mentioned Suleiman’s mentors have been Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton. Tati is an earned appreciation and is a difficult one, for me, to view in the full length feature mode. If I could see the Keaton influence I might be more amenable. One wishes he had indulged in the Chaplin politics and entertainment fashion.

My experience of IT MUST BE HEAVEN, was that of an art house dirge with a less than charming ‘host’. I wondered if I needed to be Palestinian to appreciate this work. I was so glad when it finished.

One responds with the swings and round-abouts of the cinematic art form and you too may enjoy it as Jason Di Rosso did.

Que sera sera.