I could certainly call myself an admirer of Julian Schnabel, the artist turned filmmaker has improved with each film, from Basquiat (write what you know) to Before Night Falls to the exquisite The Diving Bell and The Butterfly. Simply put, the man can make stylish and smart films that distinguish themselves from other similar fare. His next film, Miral, is a large scale humanist film which chronicles of Hind Husseini’s effort to establish an orphanage in Jerusalem after the 1948 partition of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The challenge here is that this type of material typically plays in Oscar-bait territory, and that it is headlining Freida Pinto is a big unknown. Pinto was so easy on the eyes in Slumdog Millionaire, but did not do much actual ‘acting’ in that film – more standing and looking off into the horizon as Dev Patel did the heavier lifting – she was even completely out-acted by the girl who played the younger version of her character.
Either way, Miral looks like a handsome film, a solid supporting cast (Willem Dafoe, Vanessa Redgrave, Alexander Siddig and Hiam Abbass) and I have faith in the director here. The film is all set for its Venice Festival Debut, but The Weinstein Company has ownership of North American distribution, take that as you will about prospects of getting released in any real capacity.