Who do I Belong to? (2024) Berlinale 2024

February 22nd, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Meryam Joobeur | Cast Salha Nasraoui, Mohamed Hassine Grayaa, Malek Mechergui, Adam Bessa, Dea Liane
Tunisia / France / Canada 2024 | Arabic, Subtitles: English, German | 117′

Maryam Joobeur makes a visually stunning debut with this Berlinale competition title that mixes professional actors with newcomers to tell another tale about events in the ‘Monde Arabe’ this time with elements of magic realism. On the sandy shores of northern Tunisia Aïcha (Salha Nasraoui) and her goat-farmer husband Brahim (Mohamed Hassine Grayaa) live a peaceful existence in amongst the dunes where they seem content with their sons Adam (Rayen Mechergui) and Amine (Chaker Mechergui).

Theirs is a modern household although Brahim definitely wears the trousers although Aïcha soon emerges as a matriarch to be reckoned with. “Women speak in this community” announces Brahim when their long lost son Mehdi (Malek Mechergui) returns to the fold with a mysteriously mute, burka-wearing wife called Reem (Dea Liane) who has blue eyes and an advancing pregnancy. Mehdi has been fighting for ISIS in Syria and appears to have rescued Reem from a terrible fate at the hands of ISIS. The dumbstruck Reem is clearly still traumatised by events which play out in a gruesome sequence.

DP Vincent Gonneville’s close-up camera focuses intensely on the actors’ faces. This is resolutely arthouse fare and the dialogue in as sparse as the windblown vegetation in the desert location where life often drifts into surrealism amongst the whispering dunes. There is some violence here to contrast with the dreamlike status quo in this haunting and original piece of filmmaking. @MeredithTaylor


Copyright © 2024 Filmuforia