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The Crack Magazine

the blue kaftan.jpg

The Blue Kaftan

Director: Maryam Touzani

Stars: Lubna Azabal, Saleh Bakri, Ayoub Massioui

Set in the Morocco smalltown Salé, this drama from writer-director Touzani is as affecting as it is considered. Mina (Azabal) runs a traditional shop selling Kaftans that are lovingly devised and sewn by her master tailor husband Halim (Bakri). Modernity and its demands means this kind of tailoring is a dying art and the couple are struggling to find a suitable apprentice who will stick around. Then they recruit sensitive young man Youssef (Missioui) who is all-too keen to learn the old style. Mina, however, notes that her husband is attracted to the new recruit, threatening not only their marriage but their livelihoods too in this extremely homophobic environment. Youseff leaves, but returns to help when the couple receive bad news. An empathetic script and nicely-modulated performances, as well as a tender depiction of Mina and Halim’s marriage, means the drama manages to avoid the usual spurned woman trope. Refreshingly, it is Mina, helped by Azabal’s luminous performance, who comes across as the most compelling character. The pacing is little bit too stately, but Virginie Surdej’s handsome photography is attentive and tactile, particularly in the lovely opening sequence that depicts the titular garment being lovingly assembled. The conclusion is very moving.

David Willoughby

Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm