Award-winning Israeli movie The Band's Visit is a little gem of deadpan humour (look out for the lesson in seduction scene at the roller-skating rink), where a lot is said through perfectly timed gestures and looks.
The story follows the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, who travel from Egypt to play at a cultural event in Petah Tiqva, Israel, only to find themselves stranded out in the sticks, in Beit Hatikva.
Stuck there until the next morning's bus, the band, led by the repressed Tawfiq (Sasson Gabai), gets help from the sultry and bored café owner, Dina (played by the amazing Ronit Elkabetz), who offers to put them up for the night, welcoming the distraction.
One of the most compelling aspects of the film is the duo formed by the sassy Dina and the dignified band leader Tawfiq, who with Haled (Saleh Bakri), the suave trumpeter/violinist, are both staying at her apartment, while the other band members are put up at other locals' homes.
In an early scene, Dina – whom we actually see eat her way through bread, apples, falafel, in an unsophisticated way, throughout the movie – prepares some refreshments for them and endeavours to chop and pry open a watermelon. The way she moves, without a hint of self-consciousness, seems to fascinate the men no end and they just stand there staring at her.
When the watermelon and the coffee are served in the living room, Tawfiq sits awkwardly, barely able to look at Dina flirtatiously rocking in her chair with her bare foot on the coffee table, while Haled observes the scene with amused interest.
Dina manages to convince Tawfiq to take her out to dinner, while Haled finds himself the fifth wheel on a double date with young Israelis at the roller-skating rink.
Despite their cultural differences, Arab musicians and Israeli locals manage to find common ground through music and empathy for each other's love and family issues and, during that night, some profound exchanges and secrets will be confessed.
The Band's Visit is a fantastic fish-out-of-water story carried by superb performances, that will bring a smile to your face and warm your heart.
We suggest this comforting and easy Israeli couscous recipe from our friends at SBS Food, which will transport you far away thanks to its aromatic and spicy flavours.
Find this recipe at SBS Food
The Band's Visit
Thursday 7 November, 10:40PM on SBS World Movies
Israel, USA, France 2007
Language: Arabic, Hebrew
Director: Eran Korilin
Starring: Sasson Gabai, Ronit Elkabetz, Saleh Bakri
What's it about?
This warm, heartfelt movie about love, loneliness and cultural differences stars the late Israeli actress Ronit Elkabetz in one of her most popular roles. It follows the members of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, led by the repressed Tawfiq, who after taking the wrong bus on their way to a cultural event, wind up on the doorstep of Dina, a free-spirited cafe owner in a remote Israel village. After informing them they will be stuck there until the next morning, Dina offers to put them up for the night, with help from other villagers.