Based on the novel by Palestinian author Sayed Kashua, Let it Be Morning has an important story to tell about the Palestinian experience. Though fictional, it offers an important commentary about the realities Palestinians face while under the Occupation. It’s a distinctly Palestinian story, which makes the Palestinian cast’s choice to withdrawal from Cannes after the film was categorized as Israeli all the more understandable.
Let it Be Morning tells the story of a Palestinian man who attends his brother’s wedding, only to find that he cannot return to his home in Jerusalem after a road block is installed. This one occurrence serves as both symbolic of the larger nature of the Occupation, and the one event that disrupts the life of one man in tangible ways. It’s so easy to see how everyday acts of aggression like this one impact real Palestinians every day.
As mentioned, Let it Be Morning is a distinctly Palestinian story, with Palestinian voices taking centre stage. Though Israelis were certainly involved all through the production, the Palestinian voice always comes through. The Israelis are portrayed through the movie alternate between well-meaning but naive, to belligerent. This combination can be a deadly one, which of course too often plays out in real life.
Let it Be Morning is an indictment of the Occupation in a brilliant way. Rather than showing endless violence, it highlights the everyday cruelty of being kept from one’s home. Family, friends, and even a job are all things that are shown to be within reach and yet another world away. The movie never excuses terrorism and indeed never ever presents this as a viable solution. Instead, the movie instead focuses on the toll that being faced with such regular dehumanization can have on ordinary people simply trying to go about their lives.
The story itself is anchored by endearing performances. Alex Bakri, in particular, is so compelling to watch. His character is not always sympathetic. And yet, he’s incredibly easy to cheer for as his story unfolds. His character is an example of how ordinary people can get caught up in geopolitical chaos just by existing. He is an exceptional character study to consider the Palestinian experience. He’s very much an unlikely hero, which are often the most compelling kind.
Let it Be Morning ends on a sobering note, but an important one. In the aftermath of tragedy, rather than turning the focus to violence, the movie turns its focus to the necessity of collective action. It’s a powerful final shot, that is a reminder of the power of community. It’s a message of hope in a frustrating story.
Let it Be Morning is an important fictional portrayal of a real crisis facing a nation. While it never presents easy answers, it always asks important questions. It was incredibly deserving of being honored as Israel’s submission to the Academy Awards. These are the types of Palestinian stories that need to be highlighted. Fictionalizing a very real story is a powerful way of drawing attention to these stories and will hopefully spark a new generation to engage in solutions to bring peace to this crisis.
Let It Be Morning had its Canadian Premiere at the 2022 Toronto Jewish Film Festival.