The Blue of the caftan ***
by Maryam Touzani
Franco-Moroccan film, 2 h 02
Halim is the last mâalem, master-tailor of caftans in the medina of Salé in Morocco. And the slowness of his gestures, embroidering the fabric with great meticulousness in gold, is a challenge in an increasingly rushed era. He works alone in his workshop, helped in the store by his wife Mina who is recovering badly from an operation and urges him to take on an apprentice to honor impatient customers.
The arrival of the young and handsome Youssef acts as a revealer in this couple locked up for too long in the unspoken and allows both of them to accept the truth. Halim loves his wife but desires men and his inclinations are all the more repressed as society still does not accept them.
The time of the film is that of the making of this long traditional tunic, richly decorated, worn by women on the occasion of festivals. From the subtle shade of blue to the choice of embroidery, the complexity of the patterns of which is in itself a social marker, the weeks or even months of its manufacture provide the delicate framework for the reconfiguration of this love trio.
A wonderful story of love and self-acceptance
It is the beautiful idea of staging of the Moroccan director Maryam Touzani who weaves around this ancestral know-how a magnificent story of love and self-acceptance. The different stages of the creation of the garment then mark those of the dramaturgy. First the joy of seeing their tete-a-tete broken off by the arrival of the young man, Mina’s jealousy when she detects her husband’s attraction, then the rejection causing Youssef’s departure. Until Mina’s illness interrupts work and once again upsets their relationship.
The filmmaker tackles the theme of homosexuality, a subject still taboo in Morocco, with a grace and subtlety that are the strength of this film, which is as slow as it is intense. As in her first feature, Adam, Maryam Touzani conveys the slightest feeling in gestures and looks rather than in words. The blossoming of desire arises in the work of the fabric and the embroidery, filmed with great sensuality, while the tenderness of the couple lies entirely in these extremely intimate gestures of daily life that Halim helps his wife to accomplish.
The first “Believe in Cinema” prize awarded to “Adam”, by Maryam Touzani
Love circulates and bathes in a beautiful golden light that intensifies as it affirms itself without needing to add more. Already starring in Adam, the actress Lubna Azabal, overwhelming in the role of Mina, is the central star around which the two men gravitate, drawing from her strength the courage to face the outside gaze. And, proof that mentalities are changing, the film received a visa for exploitation in Morocco and was chosen to represent the country at the last Oscars.
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