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The Globe and Mail

Theeb: Boy’s taut tale a camelback western in a lawless sand-land

2.5 out of 4 stars

Written by
Naji Abu Nowar and Bassel Ghandour
Directed by
Naji Abu Nowar
Jacir Eid

A pop-eyed Bedouin boy is hiding from marauders in a desert well when his rope is chopped: A lifeline lost, he is cut off from tribe, tradition and family.

Set in the Arabia of the First World War, Theeb is a taut widescreen tale – a western of a camelback kind, in a lawless sand-land where trains and an Ottoman Empire threaten a way of life, and where people take morality into their own hands. The adventure stars the young, watchable Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat as the lead; his quick, necessary uptake of wiliness is the subtitled film's through-line and source of charisma.

Mainstream audiences might wish for something bolder and grittier than the Oxford-born director Naji Abu Nowar is prepared to offer. But if it is more art-house than epic, Theeb is classic enough – watching the final scene, somewhere Sergio Leone smiles and whistles weirdly.

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