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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And now we call on movie Kenneth Turan. He has a review of "Amreeka," a story of Palestinian immigrants to the U.S., a film that was well received at both Sundance and Cannes film festivals.

KENNETH TURAN: Amreeka is the Arabic word for America. The movie opens on the West Bank, where Muna, a divorced Palestinian woman, works at a bank and lives with a difficult mother who doesn't hesitate to criticize her weight.

It's a comfortable middle-class existence. How often do we see that side of Palestinian life? But when a U.S. green card for herself and her 16-year-old son unexpectedly comes through, Muna ends up making her uncertain way through U.S. Customs.

(Soundbite of movie, "Amreeka")

Unidentified Man: Where are you from, Israel?

Ms. NISREEN FAOUR (Actor): (as Muna) No, no. It's the Palestinian territory.

Unidentified Man: Your occupation?

MS. FAOUR: (as Muna) Yes, it is occupied, for 40 years.

Unidentified Man: No. What is your occupation?

TURAN: Muna and her son are going to stay with her sister, played by the great Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass, who's been living in suburban Illinois. Muna is in desperate need of work of any kind. Despite her experience, no local bank wants to hire her, and the only job she can get is in fast food.

(Soundbite of movie, "Amreeka")

MS. FAOUR: (as Muna) Welcome to the White Castle. Would you like a case of craving?

Unidentified Man #2: No. It's would you like to try our crave case?

MS. FAOUR: (as Muna) That's what I say.

Unidentified Man #2: Just stick with welcome to White Castle.

TURAN: Writer-director Cherien Dabis grew up in the Midwest as the daughter of a Palestinian father and a Jordanian mother. And that background has helped her understand that immigration sagas are at once the saddest, the happiest and the most quintessentially American of stories.

Amreeka moves back and forth between what happens to Muna in her life and the difficulties her son faces in his. America is more than they bargained for, as it always is, and while this film allows problems to recede, it doesn't glibly insist they've gone away.

It is true, as a character says, that a tree pulled out by its roots and placed elsewhere, it doesn't grow. But if anyone can turn that situation around, it's Muna.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. You'll find clips from "Amreeka," plus more coverage of the week's new movies in the Arts and Life section of the new npr.org.

At the box office this weekend, the top-grossing movie for the second straight week was a horror film. "The Final Destination" pulled nearly 12-and-a-half million dollars in. Horror beat comedy by about a million dollars. That would be the second-place comedy, "All About Steve" starring Sandra Bullock. And Quentin Tarantino's film, "Inglourious Basterds," slipped to a close third place.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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