I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Mina (Amrita Acharia: Game of Thrones) is a 20something single mother in Oslo, coping with some of the trials and tribulations of any young woman in her position, though not all. Her son, Felix (Prince Singh), who’s about six, is a delight; she seems to have a pretty good relationship with Felix’s dad, her ex (Assad Siddique), and even gets along with his new wife (Sara Khorami), who adores Felix and vice versa. Her career — she’s trying to be an actress — isn’t going so well, however, and of course there is the never-ending quest for a decent boyfriend. In the romance arena, it appears that Mina may be her own worst enemy. Is it because she is running so hard and so fast from the traditional life that her Pakistani immigrant parents (Rabia Noreen and Sudhir Kumar Kohli) want for her that she is making choices that backfire on her and end up making her less happy, not more? The culture clash only amplifies the array of life options open for all women and the pressures we get from all directions to embody, sometimes, wildly contradictory attitudes (be somehow simultaneously sexy and demure, for instance), and lends this quietly compelling film an extra layer of difficulty for Mina as she attempts to navigate them. She rushes headlong into a new relationship with Swedish filmmaker Jesper (Ola Rapace: Skyfall), which we outside observers can see isn’t going to end well… but the insightful performance by Acharia makes Mina’s longing for the emotional connection and support she is not getting elsewhere a palpably physical thing. The feature debut of writer-director Iram Haq — herself Pakistani-Norwegian; I suspect there are autobiographical elements here — and Norway’s official entry for the 2014 Foreign Language Oscars, this sharp, achy little film shies neither from sexual frankness nor from dark hints at why women such as Mina’s mother help perpetuate cultural practices that police women’s sexuality and limit their personal freedoms. Portraits of realistically confused and complicated women are so rare that one such as this still feels strikingly fresh.
viewed during the 2014 Birds Eye View Film Festival, celebrating and supporting international women filmmakers