User Reviews (14)

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  • It took me a few weeks to bring myself to watch this movie. Even though I knew it was a relatively short film, I read the back of the DVD case, got the gist of the plot, and accordingly avoided watching it. I basically dreaded such a direct reminder of suicide bombing and the many profound, multifaceted, and deep-rooted human failures such an act highlights.

    I was impressed immediately by the film's cinematography and the physical beauty of Rabia, who in the first scene of the movie is duct-taping explosives to her waist. From this point on, we follow Rabia through her fateful day to her bombing target, a beach in Israel.

    A series of flashbacks throughout the film serve to provide meaningful subtext to Rabia's act. Suicide bombing is arguably among the most distressing manifestations of the human gridlock presented by the Israel-Palestine question. Writer/Director Ali Hasan gives us purview into the suffering of Rabia's life that perhaps makes her dejected decision appear less arbitrary, less demonic, and more human.

    The film reminds the audience of the innumerable previous conditions that contribute to any human act. It is worth watching; a viewer ought to be mentally prepared for the subject matter before pushing "play".
  • aghasan27 December 2008
    When I went to the Sundance Film Festival one of the organizers said the mark of a great film is that it stays with you long after you have seen it. Well, this is that sort of film which stays with you after you watch it, and makes you think about it more. In fact I have thought about it a lot since I first saw it. I can see why it has won as many awards as it has. Everything about it is great, the actors, the sets, the way it all unfolds. Even though it is a short film, it really packs in a lot of story into that short time. You really understand the protagonist's motivation, and see where she is coming from. Definitely, a must see.
  • editor-51129 December 2008
    I previewed Rabia for the 2008 Lake Arrowhead Film Festival and recommended it heartily to the committee. While it is a disturbing film, it is an important film. That was confirmed by the Lake Arrowhead Film Festival jury, which named Rabia Best Student Film. Ali Hasan and Hanieh Jodat both attended the festival and were available to answer questions.

    It was hard to believe the film was the work of a student as it was so well done from every angle--cinematography, direction, acting, script.

    I agree that one of the amazing things about the film is that it leads you to sympathize with Rabia because you understand her actions. While we do not condone those actions, we are made to see her as a person, to understand in a limited way a completely different mindset.

    Ali is certain to be a cinematic force to be reckoned with. We all look forward to his next film.
  • isufirock28 December 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    When I first saw the film at the SunScreen Film Festival at Tampa Bay, Florida, it sent shivers down my spine. This film brought emotions out of me that I did not realize existed before watching.

    First off, on the technical side, the cinematography, production design, picture, and sound are all superb. I understand that this was a student thesis, but it really comes off like a first-class Hollywood film.

    Getting back to the emotions though, I am completely shocked that this film made me feel sorry for a suicide bomber, of all things! Towards the end of the film, when Rabia is readying to detonate the bomb and kill hundreds of innocent people, I found myself conflicted. While I didn't want her to kill all of those innocent people, I certainly didn't see her as a murderer or a criminal. Somehow, the filmmakers seemed to justify this attack, not intellectually, but certainly, in an emotional way.

    I also understand that this movie is loosely based on Palestine's first female suicide bomber, Wafa Idris. I hope the entire world can see this movie. There is no political games played in this film, or sides taken; it is simply a powerful story about a suicide bomber. I recommend that everyone see it!
  • thenames27 December 2008
    The most challenging thing about this film was that you found yourself rooting for the bad guy. After you see everything that Rabia has gone through in her life -- how she has been rejected by one man after another culminating with her husband (played by an actor from the film THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS) throwing her out of the house because Rabia is infertile, you almost want her to succeed in her terrorist endeavor. I also admired that she wanted to show the men of her community (who had so rejected her) that she could fight for Palestine too, that she doesn't have to be a man to help the cause. I'm surprised that a man wrote this. It shows great insight into being a woman, a strong woman challenged by mediocre circumstances. I know a lot of people who would be offended by the content, but it is dealt with in a very thoughtful way, and I think it just shows how the cruelties of society can cause terrorism. Regardless, it's a good story at the end of the day -- with great cinematography, great acting, especially by the lead actress, and great direction.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The story is wonderfully written, from the beginning you feel sympathy for the woman and her life. You see the change in her and the reasons are shown. From the very beginning to the very end the entire movie grips you and holds you, the dialogue is very gripping. I watched the movie from beginning to end without leaving my seat. In the end you see the realization dawn in Rabia's eyes as she realizes what she is about to do. You get a sense that she wants to die, but that she wants some meaning to come of it, but not in the end at the cost of innocent people. This movie shows you the inner mind of at least this one suicide bomber (Rabia) and what leads her to decide to commit the act. It doesn't make you condone the act but it helps you to realize that there are human emotions, beliefs, and reasons behind the choice a suicide bomber makes. Ali Hassan and his Crew with the help of the Actors help you see that there is more then one viewpoint to an act, no matter if you condone the act or condemn the act.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Rabia" opens with a scene that immediately engenders in the viewer a sense of profound disquietude and apprehension. Moments after Rabia wraps explosives around her waist and secures them with duct tape, she calmly applies makeup as if she's bound for nothing more menacing than a lunch date.

    Director Muhammad Ali Hasan takes pains to set Rabia up as coolly venomous and a skilled liar in the film's first moments, then cleverly forces the viewer to empathize with Rabia's struggle to free herself from a tight spot. This humanizing moment serves as an introduction to an overarching theme as compelling as it is disturbing. Rabia's violent aspirations become relatable within minutes. By the time that Hasan shows us the moment of Rabia's enlistment in a terrorist organization, it feels like a feminist triumph.

    Hasan's debut film doesn't lose sight of the humanity of Rabia's intended victims, even as we come to understand Rabia's motivations. In one scene, another character powerfully expresses dismay and fear upon learning of Rabia's plans. The young woman's grief is palpable and raw, particularly when contrasted with the calm Rabia strives to project in defending her decision. Yet, for all her bravado, Rabia hasn't managed to erase her ties to life. She desperately wants approval and is visibly hurt when she receives instead a series of tearful remonstrations.

    Later, Rabia casts off traditional gender roles with delight as she approaches her violent end. After earlier seeing her collapse in a crumpled, miserable heap following a man's rejection, the viewer cannot help but cheer when Rabia loudly and sometimes violently asserts herself in her last interactions with men.

    In the film's suspenseful and eerily beautiful final scene, Rabia seems for the first time fully at ease in her surroundings. She is radiant and serene. Strolling contentedly toward death, Rabia seems to be reborn. It's apparent that she may be experiencing her first-ever moments of pleasurable solitude and freedom. The last choice Rabia makes is one that will stay with the viewer long after the film's final credits roll.

    Muhammad Ali Hasan acquits himself remarkably well in his first outing as a writer and director. Hanieh Jodat is mesmerizing as the title character, while Aleek Aintablian steals the show in her brief appearance as a sweet, bold young Rabia.

    Inasmuch as this film's aim is to emphasize the complexity of terrorism and deconstruct worldviews in which suicide bombers are by nature monstrous and evil, it succeeds mightily. Yet, rather than buying into martyr worship or wholeheartedly endorsing acts of egregious violence, "Rabia" offers a morsel of hope: We see several pivotal moments in Rabia's life, each of which might have offered the opportunity to save Rabia from self-destruction, had someone touched her heart in the right way at the right time. Will audiences respond to Hasan's call for compassion toward those who in some ways least deserve it, yet who need it most?
  • With subject matter like this, you would find it hard to think you could become so drawn into the character. Within the first couple minutes your already enthralled with this young woman, and her life leading up to her final moments. In looking through the taboo subject matter, you get a personal glimpse into the mind of someone stuck in an endless cycle of violence, and what it took to push her into the decision that she has made.

    The cinematography and writing were outstanding, and the acting was very good, all in all making this one of the better short films i've seen. A must watch.
  • 718-8042413 March 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    I highly recommend this film from Ali Hasan. "Rabia" won "Best Student Film" at the 2008 Breckenridge Festival of Film. It is beautifully filmed and the acting is great. Ali is a very talented filmmaker. Here's what reviewers in Breckenridge said of Ali's film. "Great filming, editing with the flashbacks to the past, good acting, very believable story for the times of today. I wish it was longer! Student film that is very well done. The actress that plays Rabia should win best actress. About a suicide bombing on Hilton beach to kill Israelis in 2002." "The inside view of a person becoming a suicide bomber. A beautiful young woman. Very well done!" "First sensitive and human made war film I have seen. The acting was great. It was believable and not one sided as the majority of these films are. High quality in the making visually and audio wise. The world is shrinking and people are more exposed to other cultures and this portrays exactly what affect that has on us." "Very professional, tense, controversial -- Why be a terrorist? Arab woman suicide bomber -- well acted, creative switch between past & present."

    Dianna Nilsson Breckenridge
  • I first screened the movie in January of 2008 at a screening in Avon, CO. Ali Hasan himself was the presenter of the screening. Him & I shared a very intense conversation about the film and his inspirations for the film and my personal interests. Great depiction from the opening frame all the way through until the closing credits.... Rabia is an inspirational story that provides a view from both aspects whether it be a positive or negative. This day in age and the way we live our daily lives in this society it may provide a meaning of hope due to your political, moral or religious beliefs as well as it may inspire someone in a way that may keep them completely away from a path such as the one Rabia chose to follow. But definitely a movie that has kept me wondering from the day I first saw it over a year ago. As a former service-member myself this may happen when you least expect it. Ali Hasan depicts his views in a very exuberant way.... Job well done Ali with your vision. I would recommend this film to anyone who's beliefs are of hope, peace and understanding our daily struggles.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Rabia" asks its audience to sympathize with a female suicide bomber, and while that is a lot to ask for a western audience, it goes deeper in exploring her story and how she came to be a terrorist. Rabia is a woman who has been marginalized, demeaned, and abused to the point where she seeks achievement and identity on the darkest and most destructive fringe elements of her society.

    Thus, the central question of "Rabia" becomes what is the value of a life, or how is a person truly defined by society. While extremely relevant for the middle eastern society in which Rabia lives, the film extends this question to humanity as a whole. It is an audacious task for a short film, but "Rabia" opens the dialogue on these issues.
  • andreas-robichaux12 January 2009
    It's not an easy task. Not a pleasant task. Not a task I would wish upon anyone. But Ali Hassan and his creative team, incredible cast and artistic vision managed to do the unthinkable. In a post 9/11 America, they created a film so transcendent, so human, yet so crippling in emotion, that one finds himself actually rooting for a Muslim terrorist. Amazing.

    The film is shot beautifully and professionally. The breathtaking images on the screen create a resonating clash with the plot taking place. Ali Hassan did an amazing job bringing to life, and humanizing that which would seem unthinkable.
  • Director Muhammad Ali Hasan has taken on a tall order by trying to convince American viewers to empathize with a Muslim suicide bomber. Fortunately, he fulfilled that goal admirably by creating Rabia, a multifaceted character that viewers can make a deep connection with. As with most good films, this one is rooted with a powerful story written into a strong script. It also helps that Hanieh Jodat turns in a fantastic performance as the title character. The viewer can see her pain and inner struggles as she also struggles with outside forces trying to stop her from accomplishing her goal: one which we at the same time hope she doesn't accomplish, and that we hope she doesn't get arrested or killed trying to succeed at. This is a film that stimulates both the heart and the brain. I recommend it.
  • jenaroscher4 January 2009
    I highly recommend this movie for any movie lovers out there. I saw the film a few months ago and I was captivated from the very beginning to the very end. As a woman watching this film I couldn't help but to Sympathize with her pain and struggles in life to be "heard" and my husband was fascinated by her power and her strength to overcome her obstacles. The story is beautifully written, and it allows you to see the both side of the story no matter what religion or country you come from. Ali Hasan has done a fantastic job with the film and I was blown away by the lead actress Hanieh Jodat's performance. I look forward to seeing more from both Ali and Hanieh in the future.