Cinema Review: Amira & Sam | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, February 21st, 2024  

Amira & Sam

Studio: Drafthouse Films
Directed by Sean Mullin

Jan 30, 2015 Web Exclusive
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By all accounts, they’re a couple that shouldn’t be. Amira is an Iraqi immigrant hiding from the law with a grudge against the United States; Sam is a recently-returned war veteran who served multiple tours and is simply trying to assimilate back into society. Despite their differences, they’re undeniably drawn to one another. When immigration officials catch up to Amira, the couple has a decision to make: do they sacrifice everything they have—Amira’s loving uncle, and a lucrative new job opportunity for Sam—and take the plunge?

Dina Shihabi and Martin Starr are lovely as the titular couple; their chemistry is undeniable and perfectly believable. While their slow-build romance is a given from the moment they first appear on screen together, it is no less earned. Even if the major obstacles to their love do not come until late, if the greatest hindrances to their courtship are their own individual personalities, we want them to be together. Starr—in a subdued, quiet (and occasionally comedic) performance—instantly wins audience favor as Sam, a rare, honest man with dreams of being a comedian who completed his service and wants to live a peaceful life. The horrors he saw never bubble to the surface, but Starr effectively conveys that war always remains with those who served. Shihabi’s Amira is bolder, defensive, more obviously wounded by a conflict that—though she didn’t serve in any fighting—claimed those she cared about. Together, in each other, they find solace from a war America has been waging since September 11, 2001.

Writer-director Sean Mullin’s first feature is genuine and human, and with good reason. Mullin, a former army officer and stand-up comedian himself, knows intimately the pain and experiences Sam endured. He wrote himself openly into the protagonist, and the result is both refreshing and honest. Amira & Sam is a down-to-earth love story that proves people can come together, despite what the world (and society) might throw at them.

Author rating: 6.5/10

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