Bethlehem Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics What's this?

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 5 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Summary: Bethlehem tells the story of the complex relationship between an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant. Shuttling back and forth between conflicting points of view, the film is a raw portrayal of characters torn apart by competing loyalties and impossible moral dilemmas, giving an unparalleled glimpse into the dark and fascinating world of human intelligence. Collapse
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Reviewed by: Noah Berlatsky
    Mar 5, 2014
    In a spy story, Bethlehem insists, there are no good guys or bad guys, and no victor—just day-in, day-out deceit and betrayal, the weary work of hate.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Mar 5, 2014
    Superficially similar to Hany Abu-Assad’s Oscar-nominated Omar, it’s a considerably more complex and nuanced examination of the conflicted loyalties and dangerous relationships that characterize daily life in the Middle East, featuring remarkably strong, charismatic performances by a host of mostly non-professional actors.
  3. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Mar 6, 2014
    “The Wire” meets the West Bank in this searing drama loaded with action and nuanced characters.
  4. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    Dec 29, 2013
    It’s a strong and eye-catching debut, but one that doesn’t quite mark its ground as the next big thing in Israeli cinema.
  5. 63
    As a story about a war that is unresolved, it seems better suited to a provisional “To be continued” than the certainty of “The end.”
  6. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Mar 6, 2014
    Adler nicely harnesses the mounting volatility of this situation, which builds to an intense if tragic conclusion.
  7. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Mar 6, 2014
    It’s a slickly plotted ticking-time-bomb thriller with a crisp look and one standout debut performance, by Hitham Omari as a ruthless leader of a terrorist cell.

See all 21 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Mar 23, 2014
    “Bethlehem” is a German/Belgium/Israeli film which tells the story of an Israeli agent and his Palestinian “asset” and the intense, complicated and involved relationship the two experience. Well directed by Yuval Adler who also co-wrote the film with Ali Wakad, the film stars Tsahi Halevi as the Israeli agent and Shadi Mar’l as his teenage informant.

    More than just an interesting view of this relationship, the film attempts to help the viewer understand the clashing cultures among those in the Israeli government, Hamas and the Palestine Authority as the 3 jockey for control and jurisdiction in this troubled part of the world. I give the film and 8 and suggest that it be seen by all who are seeking a better understanding of the almost impossible situation in the middle East and why, in the land of miracles, it will take one to bring peace to that part of the world.
  2. Mar 13, 2014
    One can characterize this movie as a physiological drama or a thriller. Two main characters are Razi, Israeli secret service officer, and his teenage informant Sanfur. Sanfur's older brother is a leader in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, responsible for many terrorist acts against Israelis and as such is wanted by Israelis. Sanfur is struggling with conflicting loyalty: on one hand, he loves his brother and wants his family to be proud of him (and the only way to get such respect is to take part in armed actions against Israelis). On the other hand, there has been an emotional bond between him and Razi who treats him better than his own father. He has to walk a very tight and dangerous rope as a double agent. And he is only a kid.

    Razi's feelings are also troubled: he is sympathetic towards the boy yet these emotions conflict with his professionalism. For Razi's boss Sanfur is only an asset but for Razi he is almost like a son.

    The movie allows us a glimpse into working of Israeli intelligence and, on the other hand, into conflicts among different Palestinian militant groups.

    Overall, the movie is a very strong debut for director Yuval Adler.
  3. Nov 26, 2014
    Bethlehem joins a recent string of Israeli films (such as Footnote and Ajami, to name a few) to leave a significant mark in the United States. While the deeper themes relating to terrorism and the fight against it remain a mere plot device, Bethlehem's focus on loyalty, brotherhood, and betrayal reap some interesting, if somewhat slight, results. The plot is too complex for it's own good, at least in the first third. After things settle down, we begin to truly grasp the motivation of each character. I find it interesting how the film manages to humanize the terrorist brotherhood without demonizing them, yet simultaneously portraying them as the antagonists who are committing horrible acts and should meet justice. While the finale is satisfying in a sense, I feel as though numerous elements of the plot are unresolved. It could have gone on for a decent half-an-hour and seen out the repercussions of the final act of violence that concludes Bethlehem and more properly concluded the narratives of a couple other side-characters, particularly Badawi. No matter, though. Flawed as it is, Bethlehem still resembles some of the finest filmmaking Israel has to offer. Expand