QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM THE TALLINN BLACK NIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL
This German crime thriller may as well be described as a neo-noir. It has all the ingredients of the genre: a low budget (with no public funding), black and white footage, abundant interplay of light, numerous and murderous twists and even a blond femme fatale sporting a black wig. It’s an indie production targeted at a niche audience. It won’t make it big outside Germany.
Bulky and heavily bearded Momo (played by Kida Khodr Ramadan, who was indeed born in Beirut) is a skilled Lebanese hitman living in Berlin. He’s extremely nimble and accurate. Despite being sightless, he always kills his victims with surprising precision. One day, he is commissioned to murder three people inside a flat. He fatally shoots two adults, but does not manage to pull the trigger on a young girl called Junah (played by his very own daughter Dunya Ramadan).
Momo and Junah bond. He treats the child with a type of kindness and affection that he does not bestow upon adults. He does his utmost to evade both his associates (who wish to eliminate Junah) and the authorities. A blonde woman called Jessica is tasked with tracking down the missing child, and she is prepared to resort to very unorthodox procedures (including faking a motorbike accident) in order to achieve her goal.
There are various problems with The Man from Beirut. The script is disjointed. Many characters are entirely redundant (such as the two men in the car crash). Junah’s character isn’t credible: she is completely unfazed by successive deaths in front of her very eyes (quite unusual for a child). And her chemistry with Momo is rather lukewarm (despite the fact that the actor is her real father). The connection with Lebanon is also a little clumsy. Momo wants to escape to his home nation with Junah. His desire is illustrated by successive images of the Mediterranean country’s coast, including underwater wave shots. It feels a little random and unimaginative. Plus the violence in the very last sequence is excessive and gratuitous. All in all, a misfire.
Man from Beirut is showing in Competition at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.