Saturday, November 28, 2020

Adam: A window to the inner world of women


Adam is, as the cliché goes, based on a true story. Writer/director Maryam Touzani drew on personal experience to craft this very moving film. It is set in the narrow streets of Morocco’s Casablasnca medina, where widow Alba and her young daughter Warda reside. The arrival of homeless and very pregnant Samia changes their settled and seemingly dreary life.
We share the lives of three females of different ages and experience: mother, child and mother-to-be. The actors' backgrounds also mirror their characeters' life experience. Lubna Azabal, who plays widow Alba, has an extensive filmography. It includes numerous awards such as the 2014 Magritte for best actress in Incendies. Nisrin Erradi, as pregnant Samia, is an up-and-coming star of Moroccan cinema and has gained international recognition for her role in Adam. Douae Belkhaouda, as Warda, gives the natural performance we might expect from a first-timer who brims with confidence. Maryam Touzani found her playing in an alley.
Aziz Hattab, who plays Slimani, delivers the only significant male role as Alba's admirer with a gentle touch.
The tension between the two women is the key ingredient of the story. In often highly charged exchanges, each woman helps the other to face her personal predicaments and choices. The lack of music during the film heightens the impact of these clashes. The music that is present is usually a key part of the process of their opening up.
Cooking is the main device that brings them together. Alba supports herself by selling prepared food through a counter window. Samia is a skilled cook who helps her with recipes and preparation. The dough kneading scene encapulates its emotional importance.
Most of the action takes place in the confined space of Alba's house or the narrow streets and alleyways of the medina. Touzani has described the atmosphere as being 'akin to a theater stage, with the shop window being their one opening onto the world'.
I highly recommend that you join this inner world. It is no surpirise that this film was featured in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard and was Morocco's 2019 entry for the Acadmeny Award for Best International Feature Film.