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My Josephine (2003)

Not Rated | | Short, Comedy, Drama | 16 April 2003 (USA)
Aadid tells us his life in seven minutes. He's an Arabic-speaking young man working the night shift at a laundromat and dry cleaners somewhere in the United States. In the aftermath of 9/11... See full summary »

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Storyline

Aadid tells us his life in seven minutes. He's an Arabic-speaking young man working the night shift at a laundromat and dry cleaners somewhere in the United States. In the aftermath of 9/11, they wash U.S. flags for free. He says they get six or seven per day. He tells us about Napoleon's two wives: Marie Louise for an heir, Josephine for love. Aadid likes Adela, his co-worker. She's his Josephine. We watch Aadid and Adela hand wash the flags and put them in dryers. They fold them. They dance. They stand side by side outside the door of the laundromat looking at the dawn. Will this companionship become something more? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Short | Comedy | Drama

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Not Rated
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16 April 2003 (USA)  »

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1.85 : 1
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Director Barry Jenkins wrote this commentary for My Josephine (2003) on his Vimeo account: "My first short film, photography by James Laxton, as always. Still my favorite. Written shortly after 9/11, wasn't actually made for another year because of the way things shook out in school. Inspired by three things: the marquee of a Tallahassee laundromat shortly after 9/11 reading "American Flags Cleaned Free," an image in my head of two people sitting atop folding tables, and my housemate at the time being obsessed with Napoleon. We were very young men when we made this film." See more »

Quotes

Aadid: [voice over] Something that never touches the ground shouldn't be dirty...
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User Reviews

 
Effectively metaphorical and thoroughly humble
9 September 2014 | by See all my reviews

The quiet, unassuming poetry of Barry Jenkins' short film "My Josephine" has the ability to deeply resonate with viewers in a big way, especially if they're not used to this kind of filmmaking. For somebody like me, who makes an effort to watch films all over the globe and to immerse myself in every style from mainstream to impressionistic, "My Josephine"'s style isn't something wholly uncommon for me. However, it doesn't mean that the film doesn't do a beautiful job at articulating the style of somber and metaphorical. The short would make a lovely introduction to those unfamiliar with cinematic styles often used by foreign films or even the style of film known as "mumblecore," which I've come to so heavily praise and support.

The short concerns Aadid (Basal Hamdan), an Arabic-speaking man who works the night shift at a local laundromat and dry cleaners in America alongside the beautiful Adela (Saba Shariat). Aadid narrates the short, describing how, in the aftermath of 9/11, they are committed to washing American flags for free, to which they get about six or seven each day. Aadid goes on to tell us about Napoleon Bonaparte, who we assume is either an influence of his or somebody who greatly reminds him of himself. He tells us about Napoleon's two wives, one of them named Josephine. Aadid considers Adela his "Josephine," and we see a deep feeling of contentment flourish inside of him as he stands next to her over the laundromat sink to clean off American flags.

Director Barry Jenkins assumes a sense of careful, precise lyricism in his direction of "My Josephine." It's a kind of lyricism that isn't too invasive in its meanings, or too driven by metaphoric interpretation, actively preventing in the film being observed and studied through a lens of naturalism. Hamdan and Shariat are watchable, even when given pretty basic things for actors to do, and the most commendable thing about the film besides its soft and nimble direction is the sound mixing and cinematography of the short, which Jenkins clearly put a lot of thought and effort behind. "My Josephine" may not be the most memorable short I've seen in the long term, but it bears a whirlwind of aesthetic accomplishments that shouldn't go unnoticed.

Starring: Basal Hamdan and Saba Shariat. Directed by: Barry Jenkins.


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