Its documentary form more functional than innovative, The Green Prince recounts a harrowing and consistently surprising real-life tale of sacrifice, trust, and loyalty.
Nadav Schirman’s film recounts the amazing saga of Mosab Hassan Yousef, whose father was one of the founding members of Hamas, and whose teenage desire to fight Israel was undone after he was arrested and, over the course of the aughts, became a spy for Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet.
Collaborating closely with his handler, Gonen Ben Yitzhak, who would eventually prove to be his greatest ally, Yousef covertly undermined Hamas terrorists’ efforts while maintaining his own safety — both from Palestinians who would kill him if they knew about his work and from Israelis who thought him an enemy because they didn’t know about his clandestine assignments.
Adapting Yousef’s memoir, Son of Hamas, director Schirman employs a wealth of to-the-camera interviews, archival and surveillance footage, and staged reenactments — stock devices that do much to make the film feel formulaic and pedestrian.
Despite being an aesthetic bore, The Green Prince sets itself apart from the nonfiction pack via a recent story of two unlikely comrades’ heroic sacrifice, moral courage, and cross-cultural dedication to peace that’s not only gripping, but all too timely.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 10, 2014