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Yasmin (2004)

 -  Drama  -  26 May 2005 (Germany)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 645 users  
Reviews: 46 user | 14 critic

A young Muslim woman living in Britain campaigns for the release of her immigrant husband from his detainment in a holding centre.

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Title: Yasmin (2004)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Yasmin Husseini
Renu Setna ...
Khalid
Steve Jackson ...
John
Syed Ahmed ...
Nasir
Shahid Ahmed ...
Faysal Husseini
Badi Uzzaman ...
Hassan
Amar Hussain ...
Kamal
Joanna Booth ...
Cheryl
Emma Ashton ...
Sam
Rae Kelly Hill ...
Wendy (as Rae Kelly)
Tammy Barker ...
Anna
Suraj Dass ...
Kashiff
Miriam Ali ...
Amina
Mary Wray ...
Mary
Joyce Kennedy ...
Bobby
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Storyline

In England, the Pakistanis Yasmin lives two lives in two different worlds: in her community, she wears Muslin clothes, cooks for her father and brother and has the traditional behavior of a Muslin woman. Further, she has a non-consumed marriage with the illegal immigrant Faysal to facilitate the British stamp in his passport, and then divorce him. In her job, she changes her clothes and wears like a Westerner, is considered a standard employee and has a good Caucasian friend who likes her. After the September, 11th, the prejudice in her job and the treatment of common people makes her take side and change her life. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

26 May 2005 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Yasmin - Uma Mulher, Duas Vidas  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the scene where Yasmin chases off a group of boys who are throwing milk at a Muslim woman, an old lady comes up and apologizes for their behavior. This moment was completely unscripted - the crew were filming on a real street and the old lady was just a passer-by who hadn't noticed the cameras. See more »

Goofs

Yasmin is zapping through the TV program, but you there is no channel-sign. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Yasmin is a 2004 drama set amongst a Muslim community in parts of Keighley before and after the events of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
18 August 2007 | by (India) – See all my reviews

Yasmin is a relatively low budget, British-financed and made film about a young, attractive, British Pakistani Muslim woman brought up in northern England. That is an unusual and welcome starting point for a film. However, the film's weaknesses do not overcome this stimulating basis.

Yasmin (Archie Panjabi, with a strong performance that suffers from the script, and who at times seems to be playing more towards her own background rather than Yasmin's) works for some sort of charity or social services. She is in an arranged marriage with Faysal (Shahid Ahmed, playing well given the limitations of his role) and Nasir (newcomer Syed Ahmed in a powerful performance) is a devoted but restrictive father. Her family lives through the attitudes to non-white Britons and to the changes wrought by 9/11.

Given the appropriate shooting style (the first DoP was sacked; replacement Toni Slater-Ling has done a fine job of making things interesting without coating them in sugar), the competent and sometimes excellent direction from former actor Kenny Glenaan and generally fine performances all round, it is on the writing and plotting that criticism must centre.

Unfortunately writer Simon Beaufoy's script is one that flashes with occasional brilliance before subsiding into a hinterland between credibility and exploitation. Much has been made in the publicity for Yasmin about the extensive workshopping process that led to the script. The idea for the film started with the Oldham and Bradford riots of 1999, before morphing into rather different territory under the pressure of 9/11. The film never does manage to balance between these two poles.

A film inspired by those riots would need a sharply observed sense of place, and of the mixture of identities inherent in being born non-white in Britain. Yasmin has the latter, though the identities are rather crudely displayed sometimes, but it does not have the former. The workshops took place "across the north" and the film is set in what is described in the publicity as "a northern mill town". Quite what the presence of a mill has to do with anything in a northern town today - except tourism - is baffling. Yasmin was actually shot in Keighley. Not making the location explicit is understandable, but the idea of an interchangeable 'north' betrays the same lack of precision that afflicts the characters.

To encompass differences of gender, nationality, religion and age is to ask a great deal of any character or script, and it proves too much for either the film or Yasmin to bear. Her character, so central to the film, is forced to display these different identities rather than possess them. She is therefore left with little sense of self to give to the viewer.

The beautifully realised opening, entirely without dialogue for a good few minutes, is the strongest part of the film, but is the base it then goes on to ignore. Yasmin's work is what enables her to escape the binds of the other parts of her identity, and yet we never find out what it is. It funds the Golf cabriolet she drives (there's even a line of dialogue on this); it gives her a life away from her husband and her home; she is employee of the month (which we only find out when someone has drawn an Osama-style beard on the picture). It is about as realistic a portrayal of work as an average Hollywood movie.

Yasmin's work also represents an independence that doesn't seem to fit with an arranged marriage. Quickly it is made clear that the marriage is an unhappy one, her husband Faysal - the "thick Paki" as she describes him - being more concerned with his new goat than in trying to bridge the gap to his wife.

The only character who isn't required to represent things beyond his character, and is therefore the strongest, is the father. Setna infuses the struggles of maintaining a family, traditions and sanity with palpable tastes of loss, confusion and frustration.

Finally, then, Yasmin is a victim of over-ambition. If there had been more time devoted to the atmosphere in Britain between Muslims and Christians before and after 9/11, perhaps we would have heard the two leaders' words in a more different context. If there had been time to explore Yasmin's marriage to Faysal, we might have been able to understand better why she turns to him amidst the difficulties of his and then her arrest. If there had been time to sketch race relations (as opposed to religious ones) in Britain before 9/11 we might have had a better understanding of the film's setting and of the struggles within Yasmin's family. If we had seen more of the role of the mosque in that community, we might have been able to understand better the attraction Nasir feels towards becoming involved with terrorists. As those terrorists tell Nasir, "the war against Islam has gone global". In which case there is all the more need for specifics, for an understanding which can only come through exploration, not display.

Although Yasmin tries to do far too much, it is an interesting to watch it do so. So far there are distributors for most of Europe except the UK, which is something that should change, for this unbalanced and unusual film is worth watching nonetheless.


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