An army veteran’s unlikely romance with an Iraqi immigrant is put to the test when she is faced with the prospect of deportation.::Five By Eight Productions

Also Known As: Амира и Сэм, Um Romance Proibido, Amira & Sam

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  • gaiciunas-jorune
    gaiciunas jorune

    Well, I have to start by saying: Bill Haverchuck’s certainly come a looong way. The only reason I stumbled upon this (absolutely charming) indie film was checking out Martin Starr’s filmography, wondering what he was up to these days. I’d loved him in the too-short-lived “Freaks and Geeks” series in 1999 (later followed by loving him in the again-too-short-lived “Party Down” series), and saw that this guy had some solid acting ability.I had the great pleasure of finally being able to see this at the Heartland Film Festival yesterday and this movie did not disappoint. Other reviewers here have already done a great overview of the plot, but here were some highlights for me, personally: 1.) Martin Starr and Dina Shihabi have incredible chemistry together. Their exchanges are natural and very believable (shout-out to the writer/director for a great script), and as a viewer you become very invested in their romance. 2.) The movie was a great, seamless blend of comedy and drama. Very true to life, where all is not defined by slapstick, nor by melodrama.3.) Both of the leads disappear into their roles. Bravo on great performances. 4.) As others have already noted, some of the cultural questions/observations that crop up in the movie are not portrayed in a heavy-handed or preachy manner – to do so is, frankly, insulting to the movie audience. ‘Show, don’t tell’ is the means to a substantive movie and this does a good job with such an approach. 5.) This movie is proof-positive that an insightful character piece will always leave more of a lasting effect on you than the latest blockbuster drowning in CGI. (And this comes from a moviegoer who’s a sucker for those types of flicks, as well.)If there’s any question of my 8/10 stars after all the praise? I just rate conservatively – or maybe I’m just bummed that this story couldn’t have been even a little longer than 88 minutes, because it’s just that enjoyable. 🙂 Check this out. It’s well worth your time.

  • allen-carter
    allen carter

    This was by far the worst portrayal of a Muslim women I have EVER seen. Clearly the producers/director and writers of the film did not do much research about Islam and thats very apparent in the costumes for the Amira in this movie. Wearing a Hijab is a symbol of modesty in dressing which completely went out of the window with the various leg revealing skirts. No actual Muslim person can begin to appreciate the movie when the character of one of the lead cast members is portrayed so incorrectly. Beginning with the fake accent, to poor portrayal of a Muslim person this was just a big disappointment. Just one more examples of how Americans really do not know jack sh**.

  • victor-peron
    victor peron

    First of all, the story line and the overall flow of the story seems to be very slow and distracted taking 3 stories going into 3 different directions with a very weak relationship between these stories. Very predictable ending with no attention to grab the audience’s attention to any overall idea or feeling. On the other hand, even though throughout the movie I was feeling annoyed and disgust by the way the writer represented the Arab culture “my culture” in this unrealistic and irrational way. Through the whole movie, I was trying to understand the main hook or purpose behind the story, but found nothing but trying to misrepresents the actual Arabic culture and values in a way which suits the writer’s fantasies and the movie sponsor’s political goals. Therefore, in my opinion this movie disrespects the Arabic and Islamic values on many levels.

  • stein-arnesen
    stein arnesen

    I loved this movie!!!!!!Martin Starr is fantastic as always (I’ve been a fan of his since Freaks and Geeks), but I was blown away by Dina Shihabi. She IS Amira. You always hear people talking about the ‘it’ factor and it seems like such a weird concept to me, but after seeing this movie, I understand it. She lights up the screen! She is so magnetic that you can’t help but instantly connect with her. Also, I’m a huge fan of Ross Marquand. I’ve been a fan of his for awhile (The Impression Guy!) and was really happy to see him in a piece where he’s not impersonating a celebrity. He did a fantastic job and I loved his performance. Great script, great cast…I’d see it again!

  • alicja-winkler
    alicja winkler

    I saw Amira & Sam at the Woodstock Film Festival and enjoyed every minute. It is definitely romantic and, at times, hilariously funny. The underlying story is much more interesting than boy meets girl, and there is plenty left to the imagination. This movie deals with cross- cultural realities and, if you’re like me, will challenge your preconceived notions of the military and of our role in the Arab world. See it if you can! Sam has recently left military service after nearly a decade, including multiple deployments. But unlike protagonists with similar backgrounds, he seems to suffer neither from physical injury nor PTSD. In fact, he is imaginative and funny and would like to break into stand-up comedy. Amira is in this country under the watchful eye of her uncle. Neither can return to Iraq, having cooperated with the American forces there. Sam’s cousin wants to set him up as a salesman in his Wall Street hedge fund business. The interaction of these three with each other and with the other characters leads to an ending that is anything but inevitable.

  • eric-thorpe
    eric thorpe

    Saw this at the Heartland Film Festival and liked it so much I saw it a second time – and liked it even better. The screenplay is deftly done, showing the pathos of ‘life after Iraq’ for two people on different sides of the experience, through a lens of wry humor.The leads are perfectly cast – Dina Shihabi totally inhabits her role as Iraqi expatriate Amira, and Martin Starr proves his “leading man” chops as thoughtful, resilient vet Sam Seneca. These two meet while struggling to integrate (in quite different ways) into New York/American society. Although they initially clash, their ultimate willingness to see each other as individuals becomes a source of strength and love, through which they’re able to better face their personal challenges.Writer/director Sean Mullin gives depth to his characters and heart to his story which lets you dissolve into Sam & Amira’s situation, and perhaps experience a gently altered perspective as well as a lingering glow for their simply fine love story.

  • nancy-armstrong
    nancy armstrong

    A compelling story about an Iraqi veteran trying to adjust to the sham that is Wall Street and while becoming aware of and sensitive to the frauds he falls in love with an Iraqi girl. He now faces hard choices about to deal with his war experiences and the complexities of the New York social scene and mores. His emotional conflict with Wall Street seems just as unsettling as his time in the Army. Martin Starr is convincing as Sam the vet. Amira is memorable and lovely as the girl in danger of deportation to Iraq with severe danger on her return because of he cooperation with the Americans during the war. I await more movies with Amira (Dina Shibabi)

  • guguli-kirkitaze
    guguli kirkitaze

    Sam & Amira is lovely, wonderful and thought-provoking. It tells the story of a vet adjusting to life at home in a unique way that hasn’t been seen before. It’s takes a look at some of the more difficult and controversial topics in American lives, but it addresses them in a way that is never depressing or preachy. The film is actually very sweet and funny. The cast has great chemistry together. You can tell they enjoyed making this film. Martin Starr and Dina Shihabi are perfect together. Their performances are strong and emotional. The love story between their two characters is so different from the usual romantic comedy fluff we’re use to seeing anymore. Their story has real heart. I am looking forward to watching it again.

  • dr-munezzer-bilgin-alemdar
    dr munezzer bilgin alemdar

    Sam and Amira is extremely well done and touches on the issues of Immigration, and re- entry of our soldiers coming back from war. It is also a love story that develops in a very nice and complex way thru the movie. Martin Starr in his first leading man role does a fantastic job and is very believable. His character has a moral code that he sticks to even though he is given numerous opportunity and reason to trade against his values. Amira who is played by Dina Shihabi does a phenomenal job in her first leading role as the reluctant love interest while dealing with her own immigration challenges and discrimination coming from all sides. Paul Wesley is great as a Wall Street type working on the edges of the system trying to help/use his cousin to further his own ambitions. The movie is written and directed by Sean Mullin who himself is a West Point graduate and served this country at Ground Zero. He does a masterful job telling this story with all it’s complexities and adding humor as the movie is very funny. Especially the back and forth between Sam and Amira. I saw the Premier in NYC

  • bhnddaarii-ysh
    bhnddaarii ysh

    The film was awesome. Funny, sweet, touching romance, just perfect in every way, the acting, writing, directing, cinematography (New York City was like another character as well and it shined), all top notch, you wouldn’t think it was a low-budget independent film. Unique perspective, not like the usual romantic comedy. The lead actors Martin Starr (I recognized him from Freaks and Geeks and Party Down, he’s hysterical)and Dina Shihabi (stage actress, first film role, she is mesmerizing, gorgeous and real, very funny, too) have great chemistry, you really believe them as a couple and really root for them the whole time. Loved, loved, loved it and would recommend it to all. I saw it at a screening at an independent cinema in Gloucester, MA, and the audience was laughing and just really engaged the whole time, it is one of those where I laughed out loud most of the movie, but also got a bit teary a few times as well. A+

  • lori-moran
    lori moran

    “Amira and Sam” features beautiful acting (especially by the two leads who had good chemistry). Great writing and good direction don’t hurt either. I loved the 7 minute uncut shot between Amira and Sam. The story is refreshing and very moving. For me, this was a highlight of the Heartland Film Festival. The New York landscape (from Staten Island to Manhattan) is spot-on. The cross-cultural romance is beautifully and realistically handled. I highly recommend this excellent film. I can’t believe this is the director’s first feature film. Also, the time flew by with this film. I could’ve watched another 30 minutes. The pacing is well done and never seemed to drag.

  • tonya-deleon
    tonya deleon

    We saw Amira and Sam at the Hamptons International Film Festival and were enchanted by this touching, inspiring, and–yes–HAPPY film. Writer/director Sean Mullin deftly weaves together potentially heavy themes–returning war veterans, Iraqi refugees/immigrants, prejudice, Wall Street greed–with a light and comic touch that respects the characters’ integrity and humanity and never becomes preachy or clichéd.The chemistry among the cast and the characters they play leaps off the screen–Martin Starr is brilliantly understated as returning Army war vet Sam Seneca (named after the Roman stoic philosopher Seneca),often looking as if he has just walked out of darkness into a brightly lit room. Dina Shihabi as the defiantly lovable Amira makes you want to hug her. And although he plays a Wall Street sleaze bag, Vampire Diaries star Paul Wesley as Charlie exudes so much magnetism that you can’t help but like him and root for him to do the right thing.An extra bonus is that the film is shot entirely in New York City, so if you love NY, love to laugh, and are not ashamed to cry, you will love Amira and Sam. We did.

  • stephanie-james
    stephanie james

    I found this movie refreshing to watch for the social commentary its fine writing created on the many opinions and views we hold as a society about war, and what we value in life. All this mixed into a growing attraction between a returning vet meeting an Iraqi woman in New York City, backdrop – Wallstreet. The acting was wonderful, and the character development of both Amira & Sam had a lovely tension and attraction created between them. I liked the various personalities portrayed in the high finance world, where the writer showed the complexity of their values – and what motivates them in the game of wit and power. There is real substance in the writing, with the right amount of lightness and hope! I look forward to more movies by this talented writer and director, Sean Mullen.

  • zaneta-kolarova
    zaneta kolarova

    I am not a film critic, but I have seen the movie a number of times. Each time I saw something different that I was able to connect to. I haven’t really been able to watch the movie with an unbiased eye, as the film is my brother’s. He wrote it. He directed it. And he spent the past decade honing his craft to identify dedicated staff, captivating actors and acutely present post-production professionals. When I watch the movie I know this. And it blurs my vision.What I do know, however, is how well it has been received by professional critics across the globe. What I have read from them have expanded my knowledge of what a film critique is, and I trust them. The movie tugs at my heartstrings and left me with the sense to be more empathetic to the circumstances of others and compassionate for the life paths of individuals who constitute the masses I pass in my daily activities.I believe you will enjoy it, and encourage to watch the movie.

  • baios-ioannes-koutsouras
    baios ioannes koutsouras

    SAM & AMIRA is a beautifully written and directed romance between an American soldier who has returned from Iraq and the niece of his Iraqi translator. The script is terrific; deeply human, funny and heartfelt. Director Sean Mullin brilliantly captures the current dynamic between returning veterans and the general public. In that sense SAM & AMIRA is a terrific portrait of this moment in American history as the wars wind down and soldiers return to try to find life back at home. It is refreshing to see a film about a returning veteran in which the veteran was neither wounded (mentally or physically) or bitter. Martin Starr as Sam perfectly captures the demeanor of an Army veteran — rock solid in his integrity and slightly cautious as he re-enters an America which is full of pitfalls for someone with a moral compass. As Amira, Dina Shihabi gives a funny, charismatic and textured performance. Mullin’s critique of capitalism run amok is right on the money: Not preachy, but accurately portrayed, down to the Vietnam vet ruefully accepting corruption as the current American way of life.SAM & AMIRA is funny, touching, and heartbreaking. A must see.

  • tomislav-polovic
    tomislav polovic

    This movie is nothing more than a white washed westernized version of Muslim women that real Muslim women reject venomously. Does the costume designer have any knowledge of Islam at all? Do they realize the terrible and i mean TERRIBLE accent the actress that portrays Amira have? Did they ask her to make the most condescending vague brown person accent and run with it? I’m so ashamed of this film. I was introduced to it by Paul Wesley and figured he was a respectful actor and wouldn’t be in something this tragically horrible. I was wrong. So very wrong. 0/10, would not recommend. If you want to make a film about Muslims, please find Muslims who actually know about the religion. If you want to make a film about an Iraqi, ask an Iraqi. Hell, I’m both an Iraqi and a Muslim, i would have been glad to offer some insight so this trash would not be produced.

  • eugene-doyle
    eugene doyle

    Fantastic! Funny, sad, dramatic and multifaceted- everything a great film should be. But there are subtler messages. I imagine this movie will create some controversy surrounding the courageous Amira’s independence. She is the Muslim version of a cafeteria Catholic. She embraces the dictates she agrees with and discards the rules that suppress her spirit. The angry reviews criticizing the depiction of Amira as out of touch with Islamic custom completely miss the point. Amira is a strong, independent Muslim woman courageously living and dressing as SHE pleases despite the criticism she receives- even from other women. An empowering, complex and thought provoking message. Martin Starr is charming as a leading man! Amira and Sam have a real on screen chemistry which has been rare in this day and age of formula romcom. Besides the beautiful Dina Shihabi the other ‘breakout” star of this film may well be that red dress! I predict this humble little film will do very, very well- as it should. Best movie I’ve seen in an age.

  • michael-hardin
    michael hardin

    Amira and Sam does what great art should do: open our minds to thought-provoking and relevant issues while doing so in an enjoyable and highly entertaining way. There are elements of this film that will be familiar to many fans of the rom-com genre but it is much more than that standard fare. It challenges perceptions of veteran assimilation and immigration. Like the character of Sam, I am a veteran of Iraq. Upon my return home, the most difficult thing for me to confront was a society that was completely disconnected from the war effort and the sacrifices of the very few who were asked to fight it. I was also troubled by the many people who thought of all Iraqis as the enemy whereas I saw the bravery and heroism of many Iraqi citizens who joined the coalition forces in fighting the insurgents and sacrificed of themselves to rebuild their country. I feel Amira and Sam is the first movie to speak to those issues in an real and genuine way. I applaud the filmmakers for tackling such important topics yet choosing to tell a story that is at the same time incredibly funny and entertaining. Comedy is at its best when it speaks to truth. Amira and Sam uses comedy to help us get to the truth of these important issues. Knowing that this film was written and directed by a veteran and produced by veterans, I can’t recommend this movie any more highly. Go see Amira and Sam! You’ll love it!

  • jerry-lewis
    jerry lewis

    We recently saw this film at the Napa Film Festival and thought it was not only the best movie in the festival but also one of the best movies we saw in 2014. If you have not seen it yet, put it on your “must see” list. The story is a wonderful love story, complete with the strings tugging at your heart and the joy of seeing two people fall in love in current times. At first, Amira and Sam do not seem likely to form any sort of relationship but soon their true selves emerge, they learn how to communicate and respect each other, like and then love each other. Writing a screenplay about a balanced, heartwarming and honest movie about a current veteran and an illegal immigrant is not easy, but Sean Mullin nailed it. The cast selection was also suburb – you will be wondering “Where did they find the woman who plays Amira?” She is simply terrific. New York, of course, plays itself.And by the way, I don’t agree with some of the other reviews saying that the movie incorrectly portrays Iraqi/Muslim women. I saw Amira as a smart, fiercely independent, strong and caring woman.

  • kristjan-suur
    kristjan suur

    It was refreshing to see a modern love story; Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, we do have beautiful stories, but we need current stories for these times that resonate with today’s young people. The characters in the story were likable, the concerns of the uncle are realistic, the love of the younger people seem true and the lives they were living were real and complicated. I am a sixty year old woman and was delighted to see a movie that entertained was character driven, surprising, and sweet. My children liked it, my husband liked it and friends were with all liked it! Go and see it you will not be disappointed.

  • sherry-chavez
    sherry chavez

    Caught the world premiere at the Seattle Film Festival. The cast and crew were fantastic. Not only is the acting and directing top notch, but the production value is second-to-none.Film provided a unique POV on veteran and immigration issues. Moments of unexpected humor and touching emotional echoes of war immediately hook you in.Film also did an excellent job tackling contemporary issues without a heavy hand. Mullin forces the audience to look at America in a post 9/11 world and, perhaps more importantly, at ourselves as Americans.This is the standard for independent film. 87 minutes that are well worth your time.

  • liselotte-hecker-b-a
    liselotte hecker b a

    Just watched Amira & Sam at Hampton’s Film Festival. Very pleasant surprise! Was expecting your run of mill “boy meets girl” love story and this was anything but that. The film is engaging and funny but at the same time exposes some sensitive political topics without ever making judgments or conclusions– it leaves that to the viewer which is where it should be. The cast and the casting was fantastic. Starr (Sam) delivers a very convincing performance trying to maintain his principles in a world devoid of them. Dina Shihabi (Amira) matches him step for step. Their chemistry is undeniable and makes the movie click. Very strong debut for her — who I expect we will see more of as she has the charisma, looks, talent and star power to go further. Also thought Paul Wesley was excellent as desperate, confused, generally weaselly Wall Street guy serving as the perpetual foil for development of Sam’s character. Finally, Kudos to writer/director Mullin. From start to finish, the film was very well done. He is able to take several different themes and ideas and and roll them seamlessly into a film that was intriguing, funny and believable.

  • lee-hardin
    lee hardin

    I’m not into romantic comedies, but I caught this movie at the Woodstock Film Festival and was blown away. The characters are all treated with respect and compassion. The dialog and timing are spot on and typical preconceptions about combat vets and Iraqi refugees are effectively challenged. Sam, the recently discharged vet, is presented as a real person trying to adjust to civilian life not a macho or tortured stereotype. Amira, the Iraqi refugee and niece of Sam’s Iraqi translator, is charming and vulnerable under her tough veneer. The actors, Martin Starr (Sam), Dina Shihabi (Amira), Laith Nakli (Amira’s uncle) and Paul Wesley (Sam’s cousin), are all well-cast and excellent. The chemistry between Sam and Amira is effective. Director- Screenwriter, Sean Mullin, has done an outstanding job in his first feature film.

  • michael-woods-jr
    michael woods jr

    I saw this in Seattle and was shocked by how much I really enjoyed it. Its hard not to wince when I see trailers for another low-budget, indie rom-com, but Amira and Sam finds a way to seem fresh and funny without falling into the standard tropes. If you are a fan of dry humor, then this is going to hit all the right spots for you.The top billed cast of Starr/Shihabi/Wesley are all immediately believable in their roles and are damn endearing. I had only known Martin Starr from the freaks and geeks days, but his stoicism really lent itself to his role as a recently returned vet. Half the fun of the movie is watching Sam (Starr) flounder through social interactions and day-to-day life while trying to get back up to speed with America and all of the ways that it has changed during his absence.The soundtrack was pretty good too – it was just enough melody to help accentuate the touching parts of the film without being overbearing and forcing an emotion on you.Very much recommended!As an aside, I’ve read a few 1-star reviews from folks who admit to not even having seen the film. That’s too bad – its a difficult thing to not walk away from a flick like this without a little pep in your step.

  • alighieri-de-santis
    alighieri de santis

    Sam and Amira is extremely well done and touches on the issues of Immigration, and re- entry of our soldiers coming back from war. It is also a love story that develops in a very nice and complex way thru the movie. Martin Starr in his first leading man role does a fantastic job and is very believable. His character has a moral code that he sticks to even though he is given numerous opportunity and reason to trade against his values. Amira who is played by Dina Shihabi does a phenomenal job in her first leading role as the reluctant love interest while dealing with her own immigration challenges and discrimination coming from all sides. Paul Wesley is great as a Wall Street type working on the edges of the system trying to help/use his cousin to further his own ambitions. The movie is written and directed by Sean Mullin who himself is a West Point graduate and served this country at Ground Zero. He does a masterful job telling this story with all it’s complexities and adding humor as the movie is very funny. Especially the back and forth between Sam and Amira. I saw the Premier at the Seattle Film Festival.