For the first third of its running time, director Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Rana’s Wedding) stocks his latest (sorta’) “inspired by true events” stew with a highly affecting, lovingly detailed depiction of a young Palestinian boy wanting nothing more than to form a band in order to help pay for his sister’s operation. It’s right about the same time sis dies (no spoiler, it’s in the trailer) and we flash-forward to present-day Gaza that The Idol kicks into idle. In a world rife with drama, where “God is against singing,” Mohammad Assaf’s (Tawfeek Barhom) quest to become the next Arab Idol plays out much in the same manner as the routine biographical backstory segment one expects to find on the talent contest just prior to a contestant taking to the stage. What follows is seven weeks of Assaf’s performances, discarded in less than a minute and capped by an ending that redefines the term “anticlimactic.” (2015) — Scott Marks
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