LADY OF HEAVEN, THE
(director/writer: Eli King; screenwriter: Sheikh Al-Habib; cinematographer: Mike Brewster; editor: Steve Mercer; music: Craig Pruess; cast: Gabriel Cartade (Laith), Denise Black (Bibi), Oscar Salem (Raed), Christopher Sciueref (The Man From U.N.C.L. E); Runtime: 141; MPAA Rating: R; producer; Matthew Kuipers: An Enlightened Kingdom release/Hannibal Media; 2021-UK-in English)
“The filmmaker gives half a shout-out for his Islamic religion to go the non-violent route.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The faith-based historical drama chronicles the life of Lady Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
It’s weakly directed by first-timer Eli King and co-written by him and the Kuwaiti London-based Sheikh Al-Habib.
In a muddled way, it tells two stories separated by 1400 years. After losing his mother in the midst of a modern-day war-torn Iraq, who was murdered by ISIS assassins, an Iraqi child Laith (Gabriel Cartade) who witnessed the murder, is rescued by Raed (Oscar Salem), an Iraqi soldier, and learns of his Islamic history by hearing bedtime stories by the soldier’s mother Bibi (Denise Black), of Lady Fatima and her suffering. It tells of an ancient time when the Muslims were united and of the same mind.
The stories remind us that Muhammad’s daughter Fatima stood for tolerance, forgiveness and kindness, which all changed after the Prophet’s death. As there then resulted an irreparable split between Shiite and Sunni Muslims that remains today.
The film draws parallels between the era of the Islamic prophet Muhammad of the 7th century and the brutal Islamic terrorism of the 21st century.
The filmmaker gives half a shout-out for his Islamic religion to go the non-violent route, but the storytelling is made up of plot points by rote, not completely convincing in its call for peace and is loaded with too many religious cliches.
All religious figures are digitally rendered, according to the strict customs of the Muslim religion. The supposed heroine, Fatima, is always completely shrouded in a black veil, appearing faceless and never becomes the focus of the story that’s supposedly about her.
The film was so uneven it never got my full attention and left me wondering what it wanted me to come away thinking, as it mostly follows the modern-day Jihadists on the warpath, doing more harm to other Muslims than to the so-called infidel Westerners.
REVIEWED ON 12/11/2021 GRADE: C