“THE GREEN PRINCE” My rating: B (Opens Oct. 17 at the Glenwood Arts)
95 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
Good guys and bad guys are the bread and butter of movie entertainment. But in the real world the difference between the two can be as fine as a hair — or impossible to discern at all.
Nadav Schirman’s documentary “The Green Prince” is an in-depth dive into a real-world case of espionage. Deciding which side to cheer for could give you a migraine.
For 10 years Mosab Hassan Yousef, eldest son of one of Hamas’ most respected spokesmen, was a secret agent for the Shin Bet, Israel’s shadowy anti-terrorist agency. He wrote of his experiences in a 2011 memoir; now a perpetual target for assassination, he lives alone somewhere in the U.S.A.
This film is both a visualization of his book and an intriguing expansion. For the film not only allows Yousef to talk about his past, but it also provides a forum for Gonen Ben Yitzhak, the Israeli handler whose growing friendship with and concern for Yousef led to his own career downfall within Shin Bet.
What’s tricky about “The Green Prince” (that was the nickname Shin Bet officials gave to their valuable informer — green being the color of Hamas) is that Schirman doesn’t play favorites. The documentary is 100 percent non-judgmental. Each man is allowed to explain himself in head-on “interrogations” (these scenes look and feel a lot like Errol Morris’ intense style). It’s up to us to sort through facts, rationalizations, and personalities to reach our own conclusions.
For many of us, that conclusion will be an acknowledgement that it’s impossible to really understand why people do what they do.