Directed by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani
Germany & Israel, 2009
Cornerhouse, 25 July 2010
There is a gloomy sense of virtue being squandered needlessly in this rather excellent crime film.
The virtues of loyalty and trust – all that makes for a good family or a close-knit community – are perverted by gang warfare into something corrupt and malign.
As a crime drama, Ajami compels one’s attention throughout, and as a diagnosis of what’s rotten in the state of Israel – tribalism, xenophobia, distrust of the other – the film scores quite highly too.
In using the device of relating some of the same events from different perspectives, the directors and writers add depth to their work. But there is no smouldering doubt, no uncertainty and no unreliable narrator, as in Akutagawa’s famous story. Only a few riddles solved.