Shot over the course of eight years, The Devil’s Drivers is a fascinating documentary that ends up feeling incomplete. Revving and running between the borders of Palestine and Israel, the film feels constrained by its 90 minute time.
Brushing gently against the political and religious situations that permeate the area, the narrative elects to follow four men, all of whom have been involved with smuggling workers from Palestine into Jerusalem in the effort to make a living wage. They have to elude border patrols, climbing into their cars each day not knowing if they are going to return to their family.
Religion and politics are pushed aside in favor of a look at the people who struggle to survive, and the things they do to look after their family, but we don’t spend enough time with any of them to truly understand them, even if we empathise with their plight.
As I finished this film, all I could imagine was how much more satisfying it would be had it been a docu-series, taking us into their lives, and the events that shape the area.
The glimpses we are afforded, set against a stark and beautiful land filled with history, violence, and life are incredibly affecting, but in the end, I found I wanted more; to dive into the cultures and mindsets on both sides of the wall, to see the characters as drivers and fathers, to understand the working conditions, and the struggle for daily amenities that so many of us take for granted.
TIFF will present The Devil’s Drivers at two more digital screenings, Wednesday and Friday.