Wednesday, September 7, 2016

As I Open my Eyes opens Friday Medhaffar

Now that AS I OPEN MY EYES hits theaters Friday I am reposting the review that ran during Tribeca. Go see this film.

Baya Medhaffar stars as Farah, a recently graduated high school student who would rather sing then study to be a doctor. Hanging out with friends drinking and performing hidden places Farah gives her mother fits of worry as she fears something terrible will happen, something she knows from experience.

Yes we've been here before any number of times but the fresh faced Medhaffar shines and sells AS I OPEN MY EYES in ways that the script that go way beyond the script’s ability to carry things. There is something about this young woman that is so vibrantly alive that you can't help but willingly follow her where ever she goes. Michael Caine said the secret to great acting is all in the eyes and with Medhaffar we read the joy of singing and the pain of existence in her eyes. It’s through the eyes that Farah ceases to be a cinematic character but instead become a living breathing person. Say what you will about the rest of the film, but Medhaffar’s performance is a star maker and is the reason this film is a must see at Tribeca.

Outside of our young heroine this is still a very good film. The film works thanks to a the great cast, a great sense of place and some wonderful songs. It was the thought of hearing the music that was what hooked me in and it’s the songs that I’ll remember beyond the great central performance.

In reading on the film I discovered that the political realm to be something that intrigued me. Set before the various Arab Spring revolutions that swept across the region, the film takes place in Tunisia where one such revolution wiped away the ruling regime, which was then replaced by a popularly elected Arab Brotherhood. While the film was made during the halcyon after the revolution the election and the fear of repression has largely forgotten (director Leyla Bouzid had to remind everyone how to behave in cafes and on the street) , the election of the Brotherhood has many people worried if the bad old days are going to be returning. What was originally supposed to be an examination of the old days in the country and the struggle for freedom, may have become a warning of where the country maybe heading to again. Knowing that bit of information is not necessary to enjoying the film, however it is something that makes the film more intriguing.

A must see film when it opens Friday

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