Movie review: A boy fights to survive in harrowing ‘Theeb’
“Theeb” is about the intersection of tradition and progress, the allure of the unknown and the bonds of family. All that and it’s a pretty good action yarn, as well.
Theeb (an amazing Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat) is a young Bedouin boy living in the desert, raised in tents, during World War I. One night a British officer (Jack Fox) rides into their remote camp with a translator. After staying a few days, he asks to be guided through a dangerous land to a specific well. Honor bound to help their guest, Theeb’s older brother, Hussein (Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen) is chosen to guide the Englishman, even though the desert they are crossing is inhabited by thieves.
Something of a spoiled rascal with no sense of danger, Theeb secretly follows the camel-riding travelers from a distance on a donkey, which he soon abandons. On foot, he loses ground and ends up staggering across the empty void, dehydrated. Eventually, though he stumbles on the men’s camp and is saved.
Hussein wants to take Theeb home, but the British officer won’t turn back; he’s on some sort of timetable involving troops and a train. So they plow on. When they arrive at the well and pull up some water, it is blood red; the well is filled with bodies killed by bandits. And soon enough, those bandits are upon them, as well.
All of which, after a number of hair-raising scenes, leads Theeb to an odd eye-opening alliance that will expose him to a glimpse of the modern world, as well as the potential darkness in men’s hearts. Given all that he endures, “Theeb” is a coming-of-age story wrought with pain and perseverance.
Running time: 100 minutes
At The Detroit Film Theatre