Rita Di Santo reviews Noura's Dream
After screening at the Toronto Film Festival, French-Tunisian filmmaker Hinde Boudjemaa’s Noura’s Dream had its Middle East premiere at the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt.
The film tells the story of a working-class Tunisian woman who has an affair while her husband is in jail – something that would seem normal in another part of the world, but with Tunisia’s strict laws against adultery Noura can be jailed, at any time, for five years.
Working hard to look after her three children, Noura is caught between her responsibilities and her dream of divorcing her husband to marry the love of her life, Lassad. When her husband is unexpectedly released, everything comes to a head and love seems not to be a choice for a woman in a patriarchal society.
The movie carefully avoids sentimentalism, morals, and clichés, and digs deep in a fascinating portrait of an ordinary, modern woman. Noura is frail and insecure, and far from perfect, she is passionately true to herself and her fight for the freedom of her feelings is absolutely absorbing.
Popular Tunisian-Egyptian actress Hend Sabri plays Noura, giving a magnificent performance of a vulnerable woman who becomes a self-confident and independent person. Director Hinde Boujemaa creates an atmosphere of intimacy that resonates with meaning and sentiment, revealing a key understanding of filmmaking. Tunis becomes a place to tell a slow-burning universal story of women’s struggle.
Sharp dialogue brings a new dimension to facts and a new way of thinking. Boujemaa, who has previously made a documentary, establishes herself with this fiction debut, as one of the most thought-provoking voices in contemporary female filmmaking.