MED Movies – Reviewing Noura’s Dream

Noura’s Dream (2019)

Cast: Hend Sabry, Lotfi Abdeli , Hakim Boumasoudi

Director and screen writer: Hind Boujemaa

Synopsis: Hend Sabry stars as a working class woman named Noura who is raising three children while her husband is in jail. Not satisfied in her marital life, Noura dreams of a better life with her lover Lasaad. To make her dream come true, Noura tries to get divorced from her husband, Jamel. Yet, before fulfilling her wish, Jamel gets out of prison. Throughout the film, we will discover whether Nour’s dream is to be feasible or utopian and illusory.

Genre: Noura’s Dream is a Tunisian-Belgian feature drama film that won Tanit d’Or JCC prize in 2019.

Because of the realistic aspect of the film, the three main characters are very close to Tunisians’ everyday life. They have portrayed their roles successfully. The film maker has chosen actors who all of them  shine in their respective roles.  Hend Sabry in her role of Noura has good acting skills and she is the right fit for the role whereas Lasaad, despite his excellent acting talent, I believe that he is not the right fit for the role of lover.

The film tutorial 

Plot:The film opens with Noura Gargouri, the main female character, in a romantic scene with Lasaad, her lover. We realize throughout the film that Noura is married to Jamel, who is in jail and then we know that she is not satisfied with her husband, bandit and irresponsible. After his repetitive imprisonment, she loses her excitement and falls in love with Lasaad with whom she decides to build a new life and dream about a better future for her as well as her children. Both of them planned to get married after she divorces Jamel. Yet, all of a sudden Jamel goes out of prison. At this stage, actions start to intertwine and get closer to the climax. Noura becomes unable to step further towards her dream as she is trapped incapable to choose between her lover, husband, children or the system and society.

The plot is absolutely touching as it deals with realistic issue that of “infidelity” and Tunisian women versus social codes. We can notice that the flow of actions is flat and this is compensated by the presence of Hend Sabry, alias Julia Roberts of Nile. Throughout the film, she uses street language, wears low quality clothes and easily slips into a working class woman skin.

As far as the language is concerned, characters use slang and even dirty words.  This type of language is used for emotional expression. It expresses rebellion and fury. Actually, it has an important role in the conversation. This reminds us of the scene when Jamel gathers his family around a dinner table and asks his eldest son whether he knows about his mother’s love affair. He says: “for how long does your mother fuck with Lasaad?” and the word “fuck” is usually said in the Tunisian street language which is not common in Tunisian cinema. Despite its shocking effect on the audience, it makes the film more authentic and real. Yet, I, strictly, do not recommend parents to bring their children to watch this film. In fact, this is what impells me to say that this movie has abused the innocence of children acting in the film. I think that such expressions should not be used in front of children because they are still unable to differentiate between acting and reality.

We can notice that there is a predominance of a low-key image, especially in the middle of the film. Dark light and contrast are clearly used which adds more dramatic effects to the movie. Through dark tones, the film director wants to show the misery and sadness in which Noura lives. Noura’s house is always depicted dark and shadowy with no light which explains the message the filmmaker tends to deliver. She wants to portray in a dramatic way how far working class people and mainly women are hopeless and long unsuccessfully for a better future. It is only at the end of the film that lights come out in the house and this can lead us to the optimistic view of the filmmaker.

Hind Boujemaa wants to draw our attention to several themes.

First theme is infidelity or what is also called adultery. The movie raises the following question: how far is love of a married person outside wedlock legitimate? Is it considered a crime? Is it the role of the law to interfere in personal issues like couples’ relationships?
 According to the Tunisian law, any married person who is proved to have any love or sexual relation outside marriage is fined and sentenced to 5 years in prison. That is to say, infidelity is compared to a crime in the legal mind. Here, the movie denounces the puritanical aspect of the Tunisian legislation. Despite the modern aspect ornamenting the display of Tunisian life, law is still lagging behind. 

Another highly criticized issue throughout this film is silent social codes. One of these codes, we can mention gender inequality. Even though it is always said that a woman in Tunisia has the same rights and respect given to a man, we realize soon that she does not.  When a man commits crimes and does illegal actions like raping, looting and so on but never harshly condemned by society whereas if a woman does the same actions, she will be extremely blamed and even stigmatized. Such example is clear in Jamel/Noura relationship. The husband is not blamed for his crimes and his irresponsibility towards his family whereas Noura is judged for her dream.

Besides, Boujemaa puts her finger on the issue of a woman’s body in the oriental mentality. She clearly criticizes the fact of linking body to property. A girl in oriental countries is, firstly, owned by whoever male figure in the family like father or brother. Then, this possession is quickly transmitted to another revered man who is the husband. She is permitted to regain her ownership only if she gets a release certificate known as divorce. This is why; Noura is trying hard to get divorced to achieve her dream and own again her body.

Police corruption is one of the behaviours condemned in this film. The movie maker unveils policemen’s abuse of power for personal gains. This reminds us of the scene when the investigator yields his place to Jamel’s friend to investigate Lasaad when he is raped by Jamel.

Overall, Noura’s Dream is a good film that I recommend you to watch for the original issues it tackles and for its cast that are more than professional in their acting. Yet, the audience is still unable to create a link with the lovers. We fail by the end to identify with the characters because they are not valorized as love scenes lack further romance and intimacy which makes feelings of love unreal and almost not felt.

BY Ameera MASROUR

10.03.2020

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