A man and a woman exchange a quick magnetic glance on a train as they each travel to the World Cup finals in Berlin. They accidentally swap backpacks, and when they meet to exchange their bags, the brief spark they felt before begins to take flame. This sounds like the setup to any number of romantic movies, but in Erez Tadmor and Guy Nattiv's astounding Strangers, the familiar premise is the catalyst for greater and deeper themes. An Israeli man, Eyal (Liron Levo), has left his home on the kibbutz to come to Germany. Having grown up in Ramallah, Rana (Lubna Azabal, Paradise Now) became an expat living in Paris because the day-to-day existence in the Palestinian territories had become too difficult. Tadmor and Nattiv turn this unlikely relationship into a metaphor for the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As these two people-who grew up in completely different worlds even while being virtual neighbors-get to know each other, they discover a bond that refuses to dissipate. Their relationship is tested by their differing cultures, opinions on the situation in their homelands, and their allegiances to friends. But through it all, their dislocation from the heart of the conflict allows them to come together not as an Israeli and a Palestinian, but as a man and a woman. Strangers is more than a simple meet-cute situation, and Tadmor and Nattiv (who adapted the film from their award-winning 2003 short) take full advantage of their actors' talent and chemistry: The connection between Rana and Eyal is dramatic because of the complexities and nuances Azabal and Levo bring to their roles. Ultimately, Strangers is a film of hope-the hope that if the masses could see each other as individual people, maybe it wouldn't be so hard to realize that we're all not so different.
Following the May 1st screening, American Express ® Cardmembers are invited to a complimentary after movie reception at the American Express Insider Center located at 27 Union Square West, Union Square Ballroom. Details to be provided at the theater!