The Narrow Frame of Midnight
Directed by Tala Hadid
The intersecting destinies of three people — a Moroccan-Iraqi writer searching for his brother, the lover whom he left behind, and a young orphan on the run — create an incisive and unsettling portrait of a land riven by violence and fundamentalism.
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★★★★½ review by mike on Letterboxd
Tala Hadid's Narrow Frame of Midnight is a beautiful mediation on lost; the lost of a brother, the lost of a child and the lost of a mother. Zacaria's brother has disappeared from Morocco and has gone to Iraq to join the jihadist, leaving his wife and two sons behind. Filled with guilt because he never came to his brother aid when he was arrested and tortured by the local authority, he set out to find him. Still grieving from the lost of his infant child himself, he left his lover to care for a young child, Aicha whom he recused from her traffickers when their paths crossed. Aicha was being sold to the traffickers after the death of her mother. With minimum dialogues, the beautiful cinematography speaks of the sorrow, the ravage of wars and the aftermath, death. The scene where Zacaria walks over a sea of corpses cover with pink clothes at the morgue is absolutely chilling and visually stunning. So is the closing scene where the screen is slowly filling up with women in black chadors holding pictures of their sons until it's completely black, a reminder of a violence world that has no end in sight.
★★★½ review by Jack Moulton on Letterboxd
Two stories collide in Morocco as a meek and lonely man goes in search for his brother lost in the Iraqi war whilst predators kidnap a young orphaned girl. He stumbles upon her in his journey and takes her to refuge with an ex-girlfriend, notably played by Marie-Josee Croze, to buy the girl some time. Although it has its share of unconvincing moments where the performances aren't well measured, they're human characters rich in their subtleties. It juxtaposes the naive innocence of the little girl with the anguish of the man in their unique situations. It's about saints and sinners, fulfilment and loss, and having a sense of home and security. The film is quite cryptic in what it's trying to achieve, lacking a distinct tension, and it doesn't close off things the way you would hope, especially given its brisk but sparse 70- minute runtime, but it finds engaging and identifiable moments. The sweeping photography gives the film heaps of atmosphere, capturing the dusts of a ruined life. It's a solid film, but lost potential in what it could've been.
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