In Syria (2017) Poster


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The end of the world in an apartment
rafael10525 June 2017
I came out of the cinema about a half hour ago and still have not been able to utter a single word. So deeply was I moved by this film. It is a very topical picture because it gives us an insight into what people are going through in Syria. At the same time, it is a universal story of war and what becomes of humanity in times of great suffering. It could be any war, anywhere. In some senses, almost a Sartreian reflection on the human condition. Beautifully and powerfully acted. The cast is nothing short of amazing. The camera-work is just right, giving a real sense of urgency to the action but never overdoing it. The screenplay is tight, and the directing is sure. I could have done without the incidental music, but that's really nitpicking. All in all, a great piece of filmmaking and a film that is bound to become a classic.
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Nerve-wracking is right
TheLittleSongbird1 October 2017
'Insyriated' (its UK title), although not perfect, turned out to be one of the most unsettling (as it ought to be considering the subject matter) and powerful films seen in the cinema this year to me. It is a very good film, almost great in fact, that is deserving seemingly of a wider release.

Visually, 'Insyriated' is highly atmospheric and startling. The cinematography keeps the viewer constantly at the heart of the action and gives a large amount of urgency while not going over-the-top. The editing is taut and adds to 'Insyriated's' unsettling nature, as does, and even more so, the sound editing. The lighting is haunting without being too dark. The sets are suitably confined, effectively giving a sense of claustrophobia. Philippe Van Leeuw directs with assurance and control of the subject matter, being more successful as director than as writer.

Parts of the script are tight and provoking. The story is never dull and treats its subject with an unnerving quality that really wrecks the nerves. The horrors, tension and suspense are not dealt with excessively or sledge-hammer-like nor are they sugar-coated or trivialised. Yet it doesn't hold back and takes no prisoners, which was appropriate and throughout there is a clear sense of danger.

The characters seem real and their conflicts easy to identify with every step of the way, even when they make misjudged decisions they also come over as meaning well which stops the viewer from getting frustrated at them. A great cast makes this possible, with the best performances coming from Hiam Abbass, Diamand Abou Abboud and Juliette Navis. The stages of the film where the truth of the events (primarily the shooting) is discovered are particularly well acted.

For all those strengths, there are a couple of shortcomings with 'Insyriated'. While the script is generally tight and thought-provoking, there are times where it lacks nuance and subtlety which would have given the harrowing, hard-edged tone a little more dimension. But it's the score that is the biggest issue, very mawkish and far too low-key in instrumentation which creates a completely out of kilter tone with the atmosphere, when either a more robust, stirring approach was far more suitable, just as effective would have been for the film to have no score.

Overall, very good and almost great which it could easily have been with a little more nuance and a far more appropriate music score. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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A drama set in a Damascus Apartment block showing contemporary living conditions and a punishing dictatorial conflict of war outside and now entering the home.
johngraham-8822714 September 2017
My link to my blog review of Insyriated is here. It has a very well crafted dramatic take on war without indulging in political dirge. There are claustrophobic and surreal elements to it a bit like Under the Shadow. Holding up as a film made in Lebanon with the principals professionals the remainder of the cast are Syrian refugees. The plot is only over one day. Using a hand held camera it almost recruits you as another pair of eyes reaching into this compelling dark story.
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Hard to watch...which is very understandable.
MartinHafer25 October 2017
"In Syria" is a feel-bad movie, and it should be because it's about the recent civil war in Syria and its effect on a small group of people holed up in an apartment...waiting and hoping for some escape. The problem is to even leave the place invites death from snipers. Other problems they encounter are rape gangs, low provisions and how to cope with the stress and boredom. It's all very difficult to watch...and very similar to movies made about the recent Bosnian civil war. But, also an important film because it exposes a part of modern history many of us rarely think about and which films generally avoid. Well made and worth your time. Just be forewarned...there is a very difficult to watch rape scene. Anyone who has experienced this sort of awful abuse might do best to avoid the film or watch it with someone for support.
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Shattering realism. Amazingly well-crafted.
Morten_518 November 2017
28th STOCKHOLM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. DAY 4, NOV 11th 2017. Swedish premiere.

In an apartment in Damascus, in war-torn Syria, a matriarch is struggling, despite all odds, to keep her family and a neighbouring woman safe.

A Belgian-French-Lebanese co-production, "Insyriated" (2017), written and directed by Belgian cinematographer-turned-writer-director Philippe Van Leeuw, was shot in an apartment building in Beirut, Lebanon. With strong acting performances and well-balanced direction, this gripping drama is a feat of shattering realism.
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An emotional punch in the stomach
Ruben Mooijman1 November 2017
Most war movies are about soldiers and generals, trying to defeat the enemy. Not this one. 'Insyriated' is about what war does to the daily life of ordinary citizens. That can be even more gruesome to watch than scenes from a battlefield.

The film is set almost entirely in an apartment, where an extended family of nine tries to survive the war. The neighbourhood is constantly bombed, snipers are roaming the streets, there is no running water and no cell phone coverage. The front door of the apartment is barricaded. The rest of the building has been abandoned, left to looters and rapists.

In these circumstances, the family tries to live life as normal as possibly. During air raids, the teenage daughters listen to music on their smartphone, one earbud for each, as teenagers do. The grandfather quietly smokes his cigarettes and hugs his grandson. In the morning, family members quarrel about who can use the bathroom.

But the war is everywhere. There is no escape from it. The film shows how the lives of the family members are increasingly being dominated by fear, despair and anger. These human emotions are far more powerful to show the effects of war than even the most intense battlefield scene.

The decision to film everything within one apartment is a masterstroke. It creates a claustrophobic tension, and it helps the viewer to identify with the family members. Of course, this only works with a superb cast. The two powerful female leads stand out in particular. The mother, played by Arab-Israeli actress Hiam Abass, is great in hiding her true emotions and suppressing her fear to prevent unsettling her children. When she breaks down, at last, the impact is devastating. But the Lebanese actress Diamand Bou Abboud is no less impressive as the upstairs neighbour who has fled to the apartment with her baby, after her own apartment has been bombed.

One of the great things about the film is also that it doesn't spell out the war. In fact, nothing is being explained. We don't know who is fighting whom, or why. It doesn't matter. War is ugly anyhow. Apart from the title, there is even no indication that it takes place in Syria. It is a universal story.

Apart from being an emotional punch in the stomach, the film contains a lot of suspense. The script is very clever. Already in the first few minutes, a terrible incident creates a heart breaking dilemma for some family members. During the rest of the film, some other high-impact events make you sit on the edge of your chair.

'Insyriated' is definitively one of the best films I've seen this year. Maybe even the best. It would make a great candidate for the foreign language Oscars. What a pity that the producing countries, France and Belgium, have chosen other films. Neither one can even stand in the shadow of 'Insyriated'.
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