Socialist Worker

Only Human explores a different side of the Palestine-Israel conflict

by Rose Gruber
Issue No. 1952

Looking down on love

Looking down on love


Only Human (Seres Queridos)
Directed by Teresa de Pelegri and Dominic Harari
Released 20 May

This is a comedy with an unlikely subject — the Palestine-Israel conflict. It is more about how the conflict affects the personal lives of even those living half a world away from it.

Leni is returning to Madrid to her Jewish, supposedly liberal and agnostic family to introduce them to her new fiance, Rafi. The only problem is she has implied he is an Israeli Jew when in fact he is Palestinian.

The film is a comedy of errors as Leni avoids revealing this fact. Rafi, meanwhile, tries to endear himself to the family.

Leni’s brother David, who has decided to practice orthodox Judaism, insists upon greeting Rafi in Hebrew, and her grandfather tries to guess which section of the Israeli army Rafi is from.

“Our motto was make laugh, not war,” say the filmmakers.

Then Rafi manages to drop a block of frozen soup ten flights down the side of the building onto the head of what very well might be Leni’s father. And kills him…

As far as the politics of the film go, the one discussion about Israel and Palestine is a heated argument between Leni and Rafi as the stress of spending an evening with the family mounts.

The film is careful not to take sides, bowing to the usual myths about Israel and shying away from trying to answer difficult questions about suicide bombers.

It also falls into the trap of suggesting that the boundaries of the argument are dictated by Leni’s religion and Rafi’s nationalism and that the two, for now, are only connected through irrational acts of love.

That being said, it was a brave topic to take as the basis for a film which is about the broader subject of living with, and learning to love, people who on many levels we have nothing in common with.


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Sat 21 May 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1952
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