Here's something we don't get enough of these days: the simple, sweet, character-based comedy. Most American movies these days are so plot-heavy that it's refreshing to see a film with just enough story to set its characters in motion, and once they're bumping into each other director Eran Kolirin can sit back and let his fine cast do the rest of the work, without needing to juice the proceedings with melodrama or contrivance.
The premise is simple: an Egyptian Police band, travelling to perform at an Arab cultural center, gets lost and finds themselves in a backwater Israeli town. There, the proud, bottled-up leader of the band (played by a terrific Sasson Gabai) asks for help from the saucy owner of a barely-open restaurant (Ronit Elkabetz). The film proceeds as a string of finely-realized emotional moments: one Egyptian is inspired by the melody of an Israeli lullaby; an girl-shy Israeli takes tips from the ladies' man of the Egyptians, and so on, with no big moments, just a soft, carefully nuanced series of moments.
What's most striking in the movie is its careful insistence on putting the Arab-Israeli conflict in the background, always present but never addressed by the film in any way beyond a basic constant tension, and one Egyptian's discreet placement of his cap over a photo of an Israeli tank. While the movie could be seen as a fairy tale of uncomplicated Mideast peace (why don't the Palestinians just exchance flatbread recipes with the Israelis and call the whole thing off?) the filmmakers succeed in balancing sentiment and realism in a satisfying, refreshing way.