3 July 2020.
Cinelux cinema is showing UN DIVAN A TUNIS, a delightful film that they originally brought out in mid-February of this year. And then Covid hit, and it was closedown. Below is the original review of it on February 14. Cinelux is also featuring the thrilling documentary on ARETHA FRANKLIN – AMAZING GRACE. A true concert of gospel and soul.
ARAB BLUES (Un Divan à Tunis) *** (vo French)
First shown at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, this social comedy received the Audience Award there, mostly due to the radiant Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, who plays Selma, a Tunisian psychoanalyst who has decided to come back home from Paris to practice the profession of Freud in a modest rooftop flat in post-Arab Spring Tunisia.
Writer/Director Manele Labidi has put together a breezy film with a quirky, rousing group of characters who respond in varying measures to the modern manner of Selma trying to promote her trade. When she first arrives, one curious elderly gent asks about the framed portrait she has amongst her luggage. Is the old man her grandfather, and a devout Moslem, he asks. “Actually, he’s Jewish. He’s my boss”, she says. It turns out to be Freud with a bright Fez on his head.
The film continues in this light tone, with all sorts of types, from the police objecting to her receiving men in her flat, to an enthusiastic hairdresser who brings in lots of curious customers. One of them asks if she can guarantee a happy life for her from now on…
Another fellow hears that a French girl receives people on her couch. The eager innocent thinks he’s come to see a prostitute, before Selma tells him to pull up his pants and leave. This salacious scene is treated with a delicate touch and none of the MeToo angst.
And there is of course the frustrating, ongoing promise of “Inshallah” (God willing) versus real action in her search for a valid work permit.
The contrast between the entrenched, traditional ways of old and the way Selma wants to help her country people is both a headache and a delight, and Farahani has the charm and inherent talent to carry it off beautifully. Here’s an Oriental film borne with both pride and empathy on the shoulders of two women, Labidi and Farahani.
(As were also such superb films as “Caparnaum” by the Lebanese Nadine Labaki, and the recent “Adam”, by the Moroccan Maryam Touzani). Onward!
ARETHA FRANKLIN – AMAZING GRACE
Cinélux cinema is showing Amazing Grace, a great gift for those who love Aretha Franklin and gospel music. It’s a moving, rollicking documentary of her 1973 concert in a California church, directed by a young Sidney Pollack. The avant-première of the film with the Sova Gospel Choir on June 25 was sold out, so they are having a repeat concert on July 2nd. The venue is small and tickets will go fast, so reserve online now.
Look up the films, times and cinemas on cineman.ch.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.