This film is an intriguing peek into life in the city of Amman, Jordan which has rarely been portrayed on screen (it looks pretty cool). The protagonist is a likeable airport janitor who has lost both a wife and son. His pleasure comes from books and contemplation in the large library he has collected in his crumbing old apartment.
When the local kids see him stepping off the Royal Jordanian Air bus they are convinced that he is a high-flying pilot and Abu Raed humours the kids with stories of his many adventures. One boy knows the truth though, and takes pleasure in exposing Abu Raed as a sham. But the janitor is now too deeply involved with the kids to return to his life of solitude and tries to help one boy who struggles with a father who wants him to work instead of attending school, and another with the more serious problem of domestic violence in his home.
At this point the charming light-hearted tale about storytelling and dreams turns serious as Abu Raed attempts to protect the children he’s come to love. Violence becomes inevitable and the film becomes just a little formulaic.
Abu Raed also meets Nour, a pilot who struggles with her family’s expectations (why won’t she just get married already?) despite her successful career but this friendship is slightly underdeveloped. It does provide writer-director Amin Matalqa with an opportunity to address the massive class divide in the city. Nour lives in a mansion, has servants and can travel the world while the local kids sell candy to help their family scrape a living.
Captain Abu Raed a touching portrait of a man who has lost most of what he lived for but has at least lived life on his own terms. It's an entertaining feature marred just a little by a less-than-subtle ending. Catch it Mon, Sep 29th at 6:30pm at the Granville 7 Theatre and Sun, Sep 28th at 1:00pm at the Ridge Theatre