Adam

PG
Belgium / France / Morocco
2019
Maryam Touzani
98
minutes
Arabic
spoken
English
subtitles

Set in Casablanca’s Old Medina, this nuanced tale of female solidarity transcending temperamental difference captivates through the richly detailed performances of two superb actresses.

Hardened hearts find kinship in writer-director’s Maryam Touzani’s quietly enthralling debut, a tale of female solidarity that never goes quite where seasoned filmgoers might expect. Keeping her condition hidden from her village family, Samia (Nisrin Erradi), unmarried and heavily pregnant, seeks work and refuge in Casablanca. Azabal (Lubna Azabal) seems like the last person who might take her in.

Bringing up a daughter alone and running a one-woman bakery business from her kitchen, Azabal has more work than she can handle, and she intends to keep it that way. The evident happiness and security of Azabal’s daughter may be the only clue Samia needs that the older woman’s bark is more severe than her bite, but the mutual accommodation they reach develops incrementally, in sideways shifts.

Though their backstories are divulged sparingly, the performances suggest depths of experience, with Samia, in particular, registering as a young woman of substantial character, bravely negotiating a manifestly unfair social system. When the baby (the boy for whom this female-centric film is named) is born, the joy and pain of maternal connection blaze from the screen.

“The beautiful story of two women who transform each other’s lives… Touzani’s Adam is a bright addition to Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section. With great delicacy, she shows how Moroccan society censures a woman who gives birth outside marriage – not a terribly original theme, but here it is made heartrending by the superb performances of Lubna Azabal and Nisrin Erradi in the lead roles.” – Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

( NZIFF 2019 )