Ah, the plodding period costume drama! First-time director Mohy Quandour's contribution at least serves as an unobjectionable reminder that the genre is not limited to the Merchant Ivories or Zhang Yimous of the world. Set at the turn of the 18th century, Cherkess tells the tale of the Circassians' forced relocation from the Caucuses to what is now Jordan. They are a farming people, so the Ottomans thoughtfully settle them near a stream, which instantly infuriates the Bedouin, who have lived there for generations. In movie logic, such tension could only spawn romance: A young Cherkess (Nart) falls for the Bedouin sheik's daughter (Hind). The language barrier that exists between the two makes their rendezvous either a testament to the power of love to transcend all barriers or just mindless tripe, depending on your level of cynicism. (In addition to the droll baby talk, any emotional resonance is undercut by the lead actress's rather unfortunate Snooki-esque hair and makeup.) But life goes on, with plenty of harvesting, dancing, horse riding, and the Circassian and Bedouin elders' long, long discussions that attempt to diffuse the mounting hostility between their people. In the end, there's no honor killing or genocide, just drowsiness.
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