200 Meters Image

200 Meters

By Bobby LePire | November 17, 2022

200 Meters is the feature-length debut of writer-director Ameen Nayfeh. The drama stars the incomparable Ali Suliman as Mustafa, a freelance construction worker in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. He has a wife and kids, but they live on the other side of the wall, a mere 200 meters away from him. Thanks to his job, Mustafa is able to cross over for the day and see them fairly regularly.

Unfortunately, one day Mustafa’s son is hit by a vehicle, and the father tries to cross over to see him. Unfortunately, due to a minor technicality, he’s denied entry. Desperate to be there for his family, Mustafa joins a van of people who plan to cross the wall illegally. Tensions flare as everyone’s reasons for undertaking such a daunting ordeal are thrown into question.

200 Meters is very well acted. Suliman brings his trademark charisma and gravitas to Mustafa. The character’s every thought, emotion, and impulse hold viewers’ attention as they root for this man to be reunited with his injured offspring. The actor makes audiences’ hearts ache with his. Of course, it certainly helps that Mustafa is the most three-dimensional person in the film.

“…Mustafa joins a van of people who plan to cross the wall illegally.”

Be that as it may, Suliman is surrounded by an excellent supporting cast. Motaz Malhees plays Kifah. He brings an understated sweetness with just a hint of intensity to the part, endearing him to audiences. German filmmaker Anne is portrayed by Anna Unterberger, who elevates the role’s dumb lapses into something urgent and almost understandable.

That’s the issue with 200 Meters; everyone but Mustafa and his family (his wife is excellent but needs more scenes) are pretty one note. While each actor does the best they can, sometimes Nayfeh’s dense screenplay seems more interested in a shocking moment than logic or depth to the side characters. It comes to a head when the panicked driver believes Anne to be someone other than who she claims. He forces her out of the car, and the two engage in a poorly edited bout of fisticuffs. The sliver of a rationale behind this man’s freak-out feels weak, and the entire sequence should be excised.

Even still, the emotions of 200 Meters are honest and felt in almost every scene. Nayfeh should take another pass at his next screenplay, but he knows how to get the most out of his actors, all of whom deliver. This is especially true of Suliman, who carries every bit of rage, love, fear, sadness, and desperation with such pathos and heart he overcomes every flaw the film might have.

For more on 200 Meters, visit its Film Movement page.

200 Meters (2022)

Directed and Written: Ameen Nayfeh

Starring: Ali Suliman, Anna Unterberger, Lana Zreik, Motaz Malhees, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

200 Meters Image

"…Suliman brings his trademark charisma and gravitas..."

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