Sunday, August 14, 2016

MIFF Session #15: HEDI

Hedi is a young Tunsian whose life is controlled for him. His mother manages his salary and gives him an allowance. He's about to wed in an arranged marriage. His boss notices how little he cares for his job and not only won't give him time off for his honeymoon but sends him to a regional branch to solicit car lease deals with local businesses. There, he meets a woman whose concern when he has appeared to take an important call touches him. He had lied about the call to amp it up but later approaches her with the truth and an apology. Later during a moonlight swim their mutual attraction sparks and Hedi, for the first time outside of the cartoons he draws in private, feels alive. Oh, and there's that wedding in a few days...

Mohammed Ben Attia's debut feature is confident but subtle, asking serious work of its cast and lensed with a deceptively plain eye. If it should remind you of a lighter Dardennes brothers film you ought to know that they are its producers, recognising in the new filmmaker something akin to their own fearless examinations of the dispossessed and drifting.

Majd Mastoura brings to the title character a kind of imprisoned wonder as he comes to recognise the possibilities beyond the plan with a blend of a comic deadpan and surprise. That's a lot of work in a film that is determined to show the dangers of personal freedom visible almost immediately after the first burst of escape. One to watch.

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