The story told in The Green Prince is an astonishing one. Nadav Schirman’s documentary unfolds like a great John le Carré novel, threading its way through the twists and turns that bind two men on opposite sides of the Israel/Palestine conflict. One is Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a prominent Hamas cleric, who spent over a decade operating as an Israeli double agent. The other is Gonen Ben Yitzhak, who turned Mosab and spent many years as his handler.
Without spoiling anything, the specifics of how these men’s lives intersect should make for great cinema. It’s dramatic, emotional, political; incredible. And yet, Schirman can’t quite produce a film that lives up to the story he’s retelling, allowing it to lie limp on the ground. Talking heads and stock footage. Perhaps the choice to have Mosab largely retell his own story presents a disadvantage; tension is alleviated when we know that the story ends with him alive and well. Yet it’s just as much the sluggish, uninspired editing that drags the film down; if only someone like Bart Layton – responsible for The Imposter, a genuinely thrilling doco – could’ve taken the reins. The story keeps it interesting, but that’s about it.