045 - The Band's Visit (2007)

The Band's Visit is a quirky comedy about what happens when a band from Egypt takes the wrong bus in Israel and ends up in a small village.

The Egyptian Police Force band is headed up by Tawfiq, a moody General. He constantly quashes any dreams of the members of his band including the aspirational Simon and the flirtatious Haled.

The find themselves taking the wrong bus to Beit Hatikva instead of a sound-alike city of Petah Tiqva. There they meet the owner - Dina - and customers of a small cafe. Having no other options the band have to stay the night in the little village, with a group of band members staying with a different person.

There they find out that music can unify two groups of people that to begin with seem like they have nothing in common.

Theatrical Poster
The centrepoint of the film is the relationship between Tawfiq and Dina. Personality-wise they are the opposite ends of the spectrum; Tawfiq is an isolated introvert while Dina is a flirtatious, yet reserved lady. As one another open up about their respective problems, they realise that they have more in common than they thought.

The most striking thing about The Band's Visit is the language barrier. Both groups have limited English between them, and keep conversation between themselves in their own language - Hebrew and Arabic. This leads to some amusing scenes where someone can say a brazen comment that someone else cannot understand. Through a combination of body language (especially in the case of Haled), and music, the band are able to help the various residents out with their own problems.

The comedy is quite dark and sarcastic. While in places it is sparse, it is cleverly not overused so the audience do not mistake the film for an out-and-out comedy. Behind the giggles, the film hides a deep message that it slowly conveys as the film draws to a close.

This film won't be for everyone - particularly those that can't handle subtitles and quick changes in language - but it is a must-see.