Film reveiw: Wajib, a co-production between Palestine and Colombia

By Julio Bedón November 22, 2018

Wajib paints an intimate portrait of a father and son. Photo: Pyramide International

Advertised as the first ever co-production between Palestine and Colombia, Wajib is an intimate, dialogue-heavy drama about secrets, expectations and familial ties.

Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir tells the story of a father and his son who go from house to house to personally deliver the invitations for the upcoming wedding of their daughter and sister. This follows a cultural tradition called Wajib, the name of the film, which translates as “duty”.

Shadi, the son, has been living in Italy for a few years and his father, Abu Shadi, tries to convince him to stay in Nazareth with his family rather than returning to Europe. But this only sparks conflict between them.

The dialogue in this dialogue-heavy film is intelligent and well-executed. The relationship between the two main characters evolves naturally as do the plot points, which don’t feel forced or implausible.

The screenplay also masterfully balances brief moments of comedy with strong family issues that many viewers can relate to, like having an absent parent or struggling with unhealthy habits.

Related: Colombian film reviews. 

Lead actors, Mohammad Bakri and Saleh Bakri are another highlight with excellent performances that compliment the faultless screenplay. The fact that they are father and son in real life no doubt contributes to their organic on-screen dynamic. The generational gap is imprinted on the story and eventually becomes the root of the main conflict. The father expects his son to be more like him and vice versa.

Wajib is a tale of hypocrisy, of secrets and lies, where everyone has a skeleton in the closet. Throughout the film we see characters interact with each other while being careful not reveal their true self, they are stubborn, they do not allow their opinions or decisions to be changed. It’s a portrait of important aspects of the human experience and a portrait of their society as well.

Even though the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not an explicitly important part of the movie, it cannot be ignored. It is a backdrop to the everyday life that the duo encounter as they reach each new house to deliver the invitations.

Jacir manages to tell an honest story of a modern-day family in which the love and respect the relatives have for each other is stronger that all their disagreements.

3/5 stars

Wajib opened in Colombian theatres today