Earlier on the movie we are shown an affable looking old man pulling the leg of Jacob’s youngest son, who blushes in response like a pug tickled on its sensitive belly. He then goes on to ensconce on the plush sofa laid out in the hall, browsing a daily. We think of him to be family. Probably a family friend. As it turns out, he’s their driver. Jacob is that kind of a man. His family, that kind of a warm place.
Before a family outing he wants Jerry, his eldest son to click a few moments with a vintage camera bought out of his first earnings. He wants pictures taken with this archaic device over its slicker digital counterparts. He believes it watermarks memories, distinct and exclusive from digital photos taken by the dozen these days.
Jacob is a very emotional man, who’s his family’s fulcrum and his family, his.
While on a drive, Jacob proclaims himself to be the richest man in the world denominating his wealth in the terms of his children’s value to him.A loving husband.A doting dad, he waxes eloquently about perspectives, epiphanies, anecdotes to Jerry like a cult founder to his follower.
Altitude is a motif in the movie used as a metaphorical device.
All the life lessons imparted to Jerry happen from a vantage point overlooking a landscape beneath. From over a sand dune once. From the ridge of the terrace, where Jacob tells his son that the best place to look at a city to appreciate its opulence is, from its top.
But Jerry is a naive person who’s leading a life too gifted to appreciate these words. It takes a crisis,the size of the one that hits him, for him to appreciate the fruit held in the flowery discourse of his father.
All of a sudden his cup that seemed full is turned upside down. His father is forced to move to another country on the lookout for newer vistas. His prosperity gets disarranged like a pack of cards. All that he is left with is his Family and a dark corner, life’s pushed him to.
Distraught and devoid of hope it’s at this point- eyes closed, he sticks his head out of the roof of a wedding party’s limousine that he’s unwillingly become a part of-courtesy an acquaintance. This results in one of the most poignant moments in the film.
The car gets into a dark alley as epiphanies start brewing from within. With the strong wind combing against his face, he starts reminiscing his dad’s words about Dubai being a land of opportunity which he would realize when the time was right. And when he opens his eye as the car moves out of the dark tunnel, he sees the city standing before him like a benevolent deity.
If till this point it was about the king and his kingdom. From here on it is about the prince shepherding his family out of oblivion and bringing back his father from exile; while discovering his own self.
The crisis takes away every bit of opulence from them, barring themselves. If anything it brings them closer than before. It brings out hitherto dormant dimensions in each one. Their mother rises above the confines of her chores, guiding Jerry from the place of their father. She pushes him to his limits. Empathizes when he stretches beyond. Jerry manages to fill his father’s huge shoes, buoyed by his mother’s unrelenting support.
What doesn’t break something, makes it stronger by its strength.
The Jacobs in this period are kept on their toes. They learn to be desperate. To sacrifice.To cut slack. They know the real friends that they’d made, who weather the storm along with them. They collectively function with an objective to instill back the faith that left them along with Jacob. Resiliently they see through the crisis and unite with him in due course.
We get to know in the end that this is a true story. An extremely motivating one at that. But, to weave an endearing celluloid fable out of it, it needed an auteur with a vision beyond just retelling anecdotes prosaically. What we get are well fleshed characters. Scintillating performances that dissolve in the cause of the movie. Sequences staged so well to empathize and root for. Like the one in the end, where Jerry’s mother manufactures an embrace to break the ice between him and her husband that results in a Kodak moment before Jacob’s vintage camera.
The last time this happened, the camera captured a merry moment. But this click is different from that by the underlying gravitas. It is the visual equivalent of a victory bugle at the end of a battle. It captures a proud father, his relieved son and a thankful family that’s wrapped themselves around in a warm embrace.
The king returns to his kingdom, to a place that now feels like his heaven.