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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Torn Apart'
(Adrian Pasdar, Cecilia Peck, et al / DVD / R / (1989) 2007 / City Lights Media Group)

Overview: Adrian Pasdar and Golden Globe® nominee Cecilia Peck star as lovers Torn Apart by the harsh realities of day-in, day-out Middle East turmoil. Pasdar is vibrantly heroic as Ben, a 21-year-old soldier torn between what duty and his heart tell him to do. As Laila, Peck is the perfect complement to Ben: thoughtful where he is headstrong, vulnerable where he is bold. Escape is the couple's only hope. But to where? And how?

DVD Verdict: The film follows the lovers from childhood, when her family moves next door to his in Jerusalem, through the next 15 years or so, ending in 1974. In this schematic script, they lose track of each other in their teens, but are reunited when she has become a schoolteacher and he the soldier who asks for her documents at a West Bank checkpoint. They do not fall in love, of course; in the way of sentimental films that believe in destiny, they have been in love forever.

'Torn Apart' flashes through time quickly, using superimposed titles like ''Haifa Port, 1967'' or ''Yom Kippur, 1973.'' Zooming through history this way, the lovers cannot become anything more than shadows, and war a noisy backdrop. Ben and Laila happen to be Israeli and Arab, but their characters and the film's sense of politics are so superficial that they might as well be black and white in South Africa or enemies as cartoonish as Hatfields and McCoys. Reducing them to icons of prejudice is a major mistake in a work that means to portray the individuals beneath the labels of Arab and Jew.

The lovers' attempts to overcome their biases seem naive, though the film views them as heroic. Laila takes Ben to listen to an Arab professor explain his people's ideals as a balancing act, ''to keep hold of our identities and to live beside the Jews.'' Ben takes Laila to pick mangoes with his sister on a kibbutz. When violence inevitably disrupts the love affair, it is credible only because of what we know of the world. Jack Fisher, a commercial and documentary film maker directing his first feature, does not make love or war believable on the screen.

As Ben and Laila, Adrian Pasdar and Cecilia Peck give competent performances that are remarkably unsentimental under these sentimental circumstances. But there is not much they can do with these misguided, fill-in-the-blank versions of Montague and Capulet. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Director’s Audio Commentary
Deleted Scenes
Behind-the-Scenes Footage
Photo Gallery
U.S. Theatrical Trailer