“AMIRA & SAM” My rating: B
90 minutes | No MPAA rating
Sean Mullin’s “Amira & Sam” is a low-keyed gem, a little movie with a big heart.
It’s an opposites-attract romance, the lovers here being an American who has just completed several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and an Iraqi girl living illegally in the U.S. because life back home has become too dangerous.
After a decade as a Green Beret, Sam (Martin Starr) has been discharged from the U.S. Army and returned to his native New York City. After his long absence he knows almost nobody. Fortunately Bassam (Laith Nakli), who served as Sam’s unit’s translator in Iraq, now lives in Brooklyn.
On a visit Sam meets Bassam’s niece, Amira (Dina Shihabi), and it’s hate at first sight. No retiring wallflower, Amira has nothing but ill will toward the American military after her brother was killed in a crossfire, and she exhibits pure contempt for her uncle’s friend.
She’s an interesting case… though she never goes out in public without the appropriate head covering, Amira will offset that traditional item of feminine modesty with a bit of cleavage and skin-tight jeans. Plus she likes to push her luck, peddling bootleg DVDs on Manhattan street corners.
When Amira runs afoul of the law and needs to hide out, Sam allows her to stay in his apartment. Little by little the two warm up to one another.