Review: For a Happy Life
by Aurore Engelen
- Belgian filmmakers Dimitri Linder and Salima Glamine direct a drama about love and family against a backdrop of community pressure
With their first feature film For a Happy Life [+see also:
film profile], unveiled in world premiere at the Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur (FIFF), Belgian director Dimitri Linder and Salima Glamine direct a drama about love and family against a backdrop of community pressure, focusing on two cursed lovers and the collateral damage caused by their impossible love.
Mashir comes from a very traditional Pakistani family. He is crazily in love with Amel, a young girl of Algerian origin, a friend of his sister. There’s no way his parents would accept their relationship, so why talk to them about it? Better to fully enjoy it in secret. But when his pretty young cousin moves in just a few streets down the road, the opportunity is too good for his family to miss. Why go for a wife on the other side of the planet when you can marry someone while fully respecting tradition and resolving minor family conflicts?
Without toppling the balance of those around them, the two lovers try to save their relationship. But it’s a lot to ask a young man caught up in his mother’s hopes and the patriarchal authority of his father and uncle, as well as the violent feelings of jealousy and injustice of a 17-year-old girl who feels trapped. Especially since it’s not just the two of them that are affected by the consequences of their love, as soon, almost everyone around them is impacted by their impossible relationship.
The intensity of For a Happy Life lies partly in this ambivalence, when the border between the executioners and victims becomes blurred, when love results in unreason, when friends and confidantes have conflicting interests. How do you choose between love and loyalty, future and friendship, when you’re only 17 years old?
Sofia Lesaffre, seen most notably in Heaven Will Wait [+see also:
film profile] and Alone [+see also:
film profile], embodies Amel’s will and torment with great energy. Alongside her, newcomer Zeerak Christopher conveys Mashir’s hesitations with subtlety and conviction. The rest of the cast, led by Pascal Elbé (Brillantissime [+see also:
film profile], Heartstrings [+see also:
film profile], TV series Baron Noir) in the role of Amel’s father, acts brilliantly in unison.
(Translated from French)
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