|Index||3 reviews in total|
This film divided critics, some of whom found it slow and/or hard to
follow. But I agreed with those that loved the rich tapestry of life in
a small town in Morocco during Ramadan in 1981.
The film (which is gorgeously shot in a static, presentational style that recalls Kubrick at times) reminded me of films like 'Amarcord' and 'Nashville' films that capture through multiple story lines the tragedy and comedy of life at a particular moment in a particular place.
What's so interesting here is that the culture is a foreign one to most westerners like myself, so there were moments I was lost, but many more where I felt a world I knew nothing of was being opened up to me, and as cinema is so great at doing the common ground we all share was found.
It does get slow at times, no doubt, and I did have a hard time keeping track some of the complex familial relationships. But as a 'memory film' of growing up under a repressive regime in a society both modern and feudal it made me laugh, made me think. and touched my heart.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A woman in a remote village struggles to raise her son with her father-in-law, while they await the trial of the boy's father on political charges. We do not get very close to the characters (close-ups and medium close-ups are used sparingly if at all) and this is not a film in which one is likely to feel caught up in the plight of its protagonists, save on a representative level, because very real people like them exist; moreover, the ending, which shows them leaving for the city, begs many questions. What is interesting here, though, is the wealth of sociological detail: the value placed on furniture (the boy carries a chair to and from school, for the teacher, who does not feel important enough without one); the kaïd who must collect wives wherever he goes (he is so corrupt he can afford them); the farmer who ferries water to a patch of land like Jean de Florette, even though it has been appropriated by the government; the wife contemplating union with another man who visits furtively by night, because she has to support herself and her child somehow. A film, in short, which repays close attention but will not overwhelm.
There are very few "real" Moroccan films. There is a reason for this-
one, Morocco doesn't invest a lot in film, and it may be on account of
cultural reasons. Moroccans are very discreet. This is something that
is lacking in this film, actual discretion, namely by the character
playing the mother (her clothing shows a bit too much of her shape) and
the rebellious daughter- who's acting is truly awful. Very early in to
the film, she goes on and on describing some demonstration at her
school "it was like a rock concert! A boy put me on his shoulders, I
could see everything! The riot police.." to her little brother as she
plays music in her bedroom. I found this particular scene extremely
insincere, and off putting actually. In other words: I didn't buy it.
To know Morocco and Moroccans- rebellion is not something one promotes
(in Morocco, beards are considered "terrorist-y" and the secret police
literally pull out their beard hairs, one by one with tweezers!
Rebellion of ANY kind is strongly quashed, not only by the police but
in the home as well) children don't go round bragging about things like
this, so I found that scene not believable at all. If you go to any
news media, you will plainly see that if Moroccans have any sort of
rebellion, it's very small and quickly stopped. The scene in other
words, was written in with some sort of propaganda involved in my
opinion. "Hearts and Minds" indeed! I can't recommend seeing this
unless one wants to practice their Moroccan Arabic language skills.
Maybe not, really, as it leaves a bad taste in one's mouth with the
characters, although speaking daridja (Moroccan Arabic) do some very
un-Moroccan things. I knew I was in for it when as the beginning
credits went across the screen, two of the producers had Jewish names-
let me tell you why this unnerved me: would you watch a film on
capitalism and free trade that was produced by Soviets? Although
Moroccan Muslims & Jews live side by side without any problems, and
there is a lively Jewish population in Morocco, I would not consider a
particularly Muslim topic left to Jewish productions, just as I would
not trust a particularly Jewish plot left to a Muslim production. Just
As usual, any production out of Morocco with embarrassingly bad acting, stinky plot (why oh WHY must the producers degrade the female characters so?) the mother character seems to want to have a "fling" with a man who is not her husband- in Morocco, a man may refuse to marry a girl simply on the rumor she has even THOUGHT of another man. To understand the faults with this production, one would do best to understand the Moroccan culture.
I'd steer clear of this film- it's unreal, it's based on fantasy, and has an agenda. This is NOT Morocco, it's some political propaganda dreamed into a goofy, boring bad actifying mess.
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