(Reels Film) TIFF 2021: “Farha" Review
Set in 1948, Farha follows the title character (Karam Taher) as she’s forced to hide in a cellar after Israeli forces storm her village. First-time filmmaker Darin J. Sallam, working from her own screenplay, delivers a hit-and-miss effort that nevertheless boasts its fair share of compelling sequences, and there’s little doubt, certainly, that Farha boasts a deliberate yet promising opening stretch that effectively establishes the characters and their perilous environs – with the watchable atmosphere heightened by an initial attack that packs a more engaging and electrifying punch than one might’ve anticipated. From there, however, the picture progresses into a distressingly less-than-engrossing midsection that focuses, for the most part, on Farha’s solo exploits within the aforementioned cellar, with Taher’s fine yet far-from-commanding performance preventing this stretch from coming off as captivating as Sallam has obviously intended – although, by that same token, it’s impossible to downplay the effectiveness of a prolonged sequence wherein Farha watches in horror as a passing family is confronted by violent soldiers. The end result is a watchable and sometimes harrowing feature that generally does an effective job of shining a light on a real-life atrocity, with the movie’s mild success boding well for Sallam’s future endeavors behind the camera.
**1/2 out of ****