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|Index||39 reviews in total|
Let's face it: SABAH, a joyous feature concerning a Toronto Muslim
woman discovering romance for the first time is everything MY BIG FAT
OVERRATED Greek WEDDING should have been: hilariously funny, deeply
moving, intensely profound, and wonderfully romantic- and I say this as
a thirty-something male who doesn't normally like romantic comedies.
Sabah (Arsinée Khanjian) has just turned 40. Bu she's feeling the pressure of having to take care of her elderly mother, all the while trying to live up to the dogmatic standards of her overly protective brother Majid (Jeff Seymour). Taking a break from tradition, Sabah decides to go for a dip in a nearby public swimming pool. There she (literally) bumps into Stephen (Shawn Doyle) a blue-eyed, barrel-chested Caucasian. Needless to say, the twain has met as Sabah conspires to see Stephen whenever she can behind her family's back. Meanwhile, Sabah's increasingly western niece Souhaire (Fadia Nadda, the director's sister) is trying to get out of an arranged marriage that the family's inflicting on her.
Needless to say, East meets West, as it does in other culture-clash comedies, such as DOUBLE HAPPINESS, BEND IT LIKE BECKMAN, and A TOUCH OF PINK. But it's the romantic sparks that fly between Khanjian and Doyle that make this film so engaging. After years of playing the cold fish in her husband's more esoteric films, Khanjian is so bubbly, passionate, sexy, and winsome in this role that it feels like she's actually enjoying herself on screen for the first time (here she should have won the Genie award for best actress as opposed to ARARAT). Moreso, the romance between her and Doyle is believable as well as passionate, complemented by an appropriately dry performance by Doyle as Sabah's ideal, if slightly naive, Canadian Mr. Right.
It also reminds one how phony MY BIG FAT Greek WEDDING actually was. There, Nia Vardalos's relationship was consummated way too quickly, resulting in a film where the happy ending begins in the middle of the story. But here, the romance is far more believable, because every baby step Sabah makes towards Stephen becomes in itself a step to self-discovery. And yet, it never becomes a case of a poor little Muslim girl being freed by some great white hope, but a woman discovering her own independence, finding romance on her own terms.
Also, whereas BIG FAT Greek WEDDING ended up little more than an episode of THE KING OF KENSINGTON, where anyone ethnic is either too loud, hairy or boisterous, Nadda eschews the stereotypes and is able to get laughs without derision or condescension. The tension in Sabah's family, especially between her and Majid (brilliantly played by Jeff Seymour) says volumes more about the complexities of Muslim culture than anything Hollywood could come up with. And it's a fun panacea to the likes of such media nabobs as Margaret Wente or Daniel Pipes who continually preach to us about the evils of middle-Eastern culture or multiculturalism. Mind you, they wouldn't know what to do with a film like SABAH. It just doesn't exist in their books.
Suffice it to say, Nadda's first feature is my feel good comedy for the year. It makes me proud to be Canadian. It makes me want to stand up for multiculturalism. It makes me feel good to be human.
(EXTRA NOTE: I actually chanced upon SABAH when it had its North American premiere last year at the NSI's Film Exchange Festival in Winnnipeg. I was in a bad mood at the time, but half hour into the film I was elated. Actually, the film, due to a projectionist's error, had to be rescheduled to be played again the following Saturday afternoon. Nadda, in the film's DVD commentary, even admitted this to being a painful moment. But just to let her know: I was so in love with the main character's story, I came for the following screening and even got to meet Khanjian herself (who was present at the screening), who was as every bit as charming as the character she played. So don't feel bad, Rubba. It was worth the extra wait. As a result, I convinced the local Winnipeg Cinematheque to theatrically screen it, paying money two more times just to see it. Will be buying the DVD soon. Promise.)
I have never been a fan of Canadian films so I was a little apprehensive when I heard this one was. But boy was I shocked. Canada should be so proud it's broken it's boring and predictable phase of bad film-making. Sabah is a beautiful story about a Muslim woman who falls in love with a man who is not Arab nor Muslim. It's a touching tale and heartbreaking because you want so badly for Sabah (beautifully -beautifully!! played by Arsinee Khanjian) to turn out well. I left this theater feeling so happy, so uplifted, so good. I really hope this film gets it's success. I adored this film. It's refreshing to see a clean and funny film. I will definitely recommend it to everyone! A Great (Canadian) Film.
I loved this movie! What a great portrayal of Arab-Canadians.
Refreshing to see a change to negative stereotypes out there! The
director spoke about how there are many different sides to the culture
and religion and how she chose to show a lighter and more humane side.
Thank god for that. As an Arab man, I appreciated seeing the culture in
a different context; a more positive context. And it was so funny. I
look forward to seeing it again and definitely recommend it to people.
Why can't Canada make more films like this? It was a genuinely
thoughtful film. An inspiring, uplifting tale that was very well
supported by a brilliant cast (Arsinee Khanjian belly dances!! And she
laughs and smiles and flirts. Definitely a first) Excellent directing.
Let's hope Hollywood doesn't steal our talented director away.
I just came back from seeing a special screening of this film. And wow, what a charming little movie. I really appreciated the opportunity to sit back and be witness to another unfamiliar culture. I think it is an important story, and well told. A moving portrayal that illustrated many positive aspects of an often maligned culture. Sensitive definition of the many different conflicts that can occur in the life of an unmarried older woman. Humour made all the characters very real. The acting was excellent. Charming and lovely story and it was very nice to see Muslim culture portrayed on screen. Absolutely fantastic. The provocative subject matter was beautifully handled. I loved every minute. This is a winner, and lots of humour. And belly dancing! Wow.
I just came back from seeing this movie at a private screening (the film is supposed to open in theaters in Canada end of May). I thought it was spectacular. The film is about a 40 year old Arab woman (beautifully played by Arsinee Khanjian) who is Muslim and traditional and still living with her mother and overbearing family who falls in love one day with a Caucasian man. The movie left me feeling completely exhilarated. I've had many Muslim friends and to date they're culture and life has never been accurately portrayed. This film shows another side to the culture; a more universal side. I loved it. It was incredibly entertaining. It's a serious subject matter but it has been dealt with in such a humorous way that at times, I found myself not only laughing but clapping throughout the film as well. The audience around me were really into this film too. The belly dancing made me want to get up and dance and the classic way the film was shot was reminiscent of Breakfast at Tiffany's. I want to buy the soundtrack and the DVD when it comes out! Arsinee Khanjian was alive, vulnerable and quite stunning. She jumped off the screen. I really liked Shawn Doyle too who played the love interest. He played him in a very natural, sweet way. This has got to be Ms. Khanjian's best performance to date. This film is definitely the best Canadian film to come out this year.
i watched this film in Bahrain yesterday at the Regardes des femmes film festival run by the Alliance Francaise. it was great to see a film portraying an Arab family abroad and the love story between people from two cultures. although there were some shortcomings in the acting and delivery- as well as a few really dodgy scenes- i enjoyed this movie and laughed a lot...and i related so well to the experiences of the house and of the main character Sabah. I also loved the music and the theme tune and have been singing it all day. Overall, i was very happy to have had the opportunity to see this film and to support a young talented director who tells stories of a world that i cannot always see on the big screen.
Wow to think i loved Arsinee Khanjian without seeing this movie just sounds meaningless afterward. Great acting especially by the 2 main actors and great beat to the movie... it has that factor in it that keeps you watching every second of it, and disappointed if you miss any... Shawn Doyle is just amazing... great facial expressions and mostly superb chemistry between him and Arsinee... they simply click. The story is very well built and mounts up to a great ending... it's one of those stuff that you know will end this way but still once it's done you're thinking it wasn't exactly as you had thought in a very good way. Hats off!!! And to more and more successes Mrs. Khanjian Egoyan...
There was an excellent audience reaction to the comedic beats in the screening I attended (as well as all-too-audible thoughts from a guy in the row behind me) so the movie pushes buttons in a light-handed way that earns empathy without cheapening the conflicts and customs it represents. For those of us outside of those trappings, they serve as a metaphor. The story is very relatable. Ruba Nadda's early films had glimpses of humor, but this one is so well integrated scene-for-scene that it feels (in a good way) like Hollywood product. In fact, the trailer I saw didn't do it justice, because a lot of the charm comes from story context and the overall groove of the movie in progress. A Jewish friend I saw this movie with remarked on how she strongly identified with characters and situations which happen to be Arab in origin. The other person I saw it with found many of the family and story dynamics familiar, but it will be clear to most people that Ruba Nadda has mined these areas in a way that makes it all ring as fresh. As a screenwriter myself I suggest that the script can be studied for its briskness and conciseness and a certain fairness in the layers of conflict and consequence as each character speaks up and manages to change our own judgment a bit. But I wouldn't call this a message movie. That stuff may be a bonus. The movie is fun. And in a market that can get pretty stuffy, that is a huge accomplishment. One review referred to an "overly earnest" moment, but I way no evidence of that. The performances play as they should. Ruba has quietly made what may be my favorite current Canadian movie. To be more true to genre, I can safely say that if you liked Moonstruck, there is a good chance you will like Sabah (though it contains no disfiguring injuries nor contemplations of death as far as I recall).
Sabah is interesting. On one level, it's a love story between an Arab woman and a Canadian man, it's funny, endearing and incredibly sweet. But the great thing about Sabah, is the deeper level it goes to and succeeds with. Many people are happy we live in a multi cultural city like Toronto. But many people are completely unknowing with the person standing next to them on the platform of the subway. The humour that arises from Sabah is quite brilliant. The director doesn't make fun of the culture or religion. The characters themselves are funny which is so simple feat to accomplish. I loved this movie. It's a perfect spring/summer movie. It left me wanting more. A job well done.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Overall, I liked the movie. It is a light, comedy, romantic movie. I
think the main reason people loved this movie is the Arabic culture
which is rarely presented in western movies. As a Muslim and Arab as
well, I can tell that from a point of view of Canadian or American this
is Romantic lovely story, but from my point of view there are lots of
contradiction in this movie.
How a 40 years old women living in the Canada for this long, wearing Hegab and refusing to let a man to seize her hand will jump to bed with him that easy. The fast changing of the family and especially the brother look to the lady's boyfriend is funny. Accepting your sister to spend a night with here boyfriend this is non realistic. Also, the end is like a fast systematic happy end. It could be written much better.
To be honest, I think that this movie presents Canadian people with Arabian culture, not Arabian people living in Canada. That's why I liked this movie. And by the way, these women don't know how to dance. They are not good dancers at all.
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