Picks and Pans Review: Hanna K

updated 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Even Costa-Gavras has to make a clinker sometime, and this is it. The Greek-born director, who last year was nominated for an Oscar for Missing (he previously turned out such political thrillers as Z and State of Siege), is back working on some new political biases. But this time he wields them in an artless frenzy. His argument is that the Israelis, through paranoia, are turning their country into a police state. Jill Clayburgh plays an American-born Jewish lawyer trying a difficult case in a Jerusalem courtroom. Her client is a tall, blue-eyed Arab accused of sneaking into Israel as part of a terrorist gang. Clayburgh, saddled with a truly moronic part, is about as believable as she would be playing Clarence Darrow. Consider her plight: In addition to showing herself incompetent in court, she's got two men on the hook and a third is nibbling. She is pregnant by her courtroom adversary, the smooth-talking district attorney—Gabriel Byrne, an Irish actor—who is convinced that the Arab (played by Mohamed Bakri, an Israeli) is a terrorist. Clayburgh phones her husband, from whom she is not yet divorced. He flies from Paris to counsel her and plead for her to return to him. Flash forward a year: Jill is still in Israel, she has had her baby, she and the district attorney are barely on speaking terms, and her Arab client is on a hunger strike in prison. This is only the beginning. In keeping with Clayburgh's naive character, she gets Bakri paroled into her custody—and he moves into her basement. Do they become lovers? Is he really innocent? Can she ever resolve her problems with men? Why didn't they call this An Unmarried Woman Goes to Israel? (R)

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