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Tel Aviv on Fire

In this wry, insightful comedy, a hapless production intern on a popular Palestinian soap opera makes nice with an Israeli checkpoint commander, who happens to have his own ideas for improving the show. What could possibly go wrong?
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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

70

The New York Times by A.O. Scott

The story risks being overwhelmed along with its protagonist — pulled apart by too many competing arcs that collide in ways that aren’t always graceful. But on the other hand, too neat a movie might risk inauthenticity.
60

Arizona Republic by Barbara VanDenburgh

Tel Aviv on Fire, like the soap opera that shares its name, doesn't attempt to grapple with the complexities of the conflict. "Is there nothing between bombs and surrender?" it asks, pleading for moderation. Moderation gets you a pleasant-enough comedy. But not much more.
75

The Globe and Mail (Toronto) by Brad Wheeler

Nashef is a sombre Roberto Benigni in his role as a sincere bumbler, defusing situational bombs with hummus-based subterfuge and desperate diplomacy. This satire in Hebrew and Arabic is an answer in an allegorical and comical way, about a mad circumstance and a man in the middle of it. A tense and painful backdrop, sure, but there’s no stick up Zoabi’s butt, just an olive branch.
75

IndieWire by David Ehrlich

A winsome and delicate farce about a (fictional) Palestinian soap opera that people are able to enjoy on both sides of the West Bank, Sameh Zoabi’s Tel Aviv on Fire might be the film we need right now if it didn’t have so much fun taking the piss out of the notion that there could ever be a “film that we need right now.”
80

Los Angeles Times by Kenneth Turan

Genial mirth and the nightmarish gloom of the Middle East do not sound like natural companions, but the droll and delightful Tel Aviv on Fire has made the impossible possible.
75

Original-Cin by Liam Lacey

Deft in its playful mockery of the broad acting and absurd plot twists of the soap genre, it somehow maintains a genial tone, despite references to terrorism, war, and daily humiliations of the occupation.
66

TheWrap by Michael Nordine

The director’s control over the material is such that, even when this all feels like a bit of a joke, it’s one you’re happy to be in on.
75

Chicago Tribune by Michael Phillips

A determinedly easygoing comedy about the Israeli-Palestinian divide, Tel Aviv on Fire gets by on the low-keyed assurance of its cast and its medium-grade amusements.

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