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The Crack Magazine

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The Dammed Don’t Cry

Director: Fyzal Boulifa

Stars: Aicha Tebbae, Abdellah El Hahjjouji, Antoine Reinartz British-Moroccan director-screenwriter Fyzal Boulifa’s follow-up to the Essex housing estate drama ‘Lynn + Lucy’ is an empathetic slow-burning study of a mother and son in contemporary Morocco that nods to Sirkian melodrama and Fassbinder-style depictions of cultural alienation. Single mother Fatima-Zahra (Tebbae) and her teenage son Selim (El Hahjjouji) are seemingly locked in an itinerant lifestyle. We first encounter them living in a tiny room, sleeping side by side on a mattress. Salim is suspicious when his mother, heavily made up and wearing lots of jewellery, announces that she is going for a job interview. Her appointment results in a brutal incident, which means mother and son must move on again. They visit Fatima-Zahra’s elderly father’s house where her sister makes it clear they are not welcome and Salim discovers a shocking family secret. Another move sees them in Tangiers where Fatima-Zahra struggles to make ends meet and stay out of trouble, while Salim finds a job in construction working for a white wealthy Frenchman, Sébastien (Reinartz), effectively becoming his personal servant and more. The pacing is stately and the depiction of the duo struggling to stay above water in a society informed by patriarchal values and still carrying the taint of colonialism, can be harrowing, but cinematographer Caroline

 Champetier’s rendering of the Moroccan locales is vibrant and colourful, and the depiction of the knotty mother-son relationship is very affecting.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter at @DWill_Crackfilm