A delicate Moroccan film about a homeless pregnant woman seeking shelter in a bakery owned by a dispassionate mother.
Dir. Maryam Touzani
2019 | Morocco | Drama | 98 mins | 1.85:1 | Arabic
Not rated (likely to be PG13)
Cast: Lubna Azabal, Nisrin Erradi, Douae Belkhaouda
Plot: Abla runs a modest local bakery from her home in Casablanca where she lives alone with her 8-year-old daughter, Warda. When Samia, a young pregnant woman knocks on their door, Abla is far from imagining that her life will change forever.
Awards: Nom. for Un Certain Regard Award & Queer Palm (Cannes)
International Sales: Films Boutique
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
(Reviewed on screener)
Two new Moroccan voices were heard at Cannes 2019 earlier this year—Alaa Eddine Aljem’s The Unknown Saint and Maryam Touzani’s Adam—with both filmmakers making their feature debuts. They could not have been more different in tone.
While Aljem’s film can be said to adopt a dry comedy style, Adam is delicately-drawn, like the handmade bread that Abla sells at her modest home bakery. A drama about two middle-aged women opening up to each other, Adam tackles female issues at the personal level.
A homeless pregnant woman is led in by Abla, who shows a bit of compassion despite her dispassionate demeanour. They take time to warm up to each other, but these scenes are some of the film’s best as they find their burgeoning friendship (or perhaps of sisterhood) helping them to cope with their pasts.
Morocco’s submission to the 2020 Oscars for Best International Feature Film.
The performances are pretty absorbing, and in fact, we mostly feel for the characters not by what they say but from their facial expressions and body language. Touzani is a perceptive director of the immediate experiences of her characters—as audiences we are brought into their private space as they make dough and sell baked items to customers.
The film’s polished cinematography not only gives us the poetic textures of daily existence in this small Moroccan port town, but calls to attention the sensual-like grace afforded between women that men have no privy to. It may be a straightforward work with no real crisis, but the stories feel true and perhaps hopeful.