Habibti (my beloved). I haven’t seen a good drama for a long time, I believe the last one that qualified was A Separation (2011). Perhaps I am just sick and tired of all those upper middle class North American’s melodramatic “problems”, whose dilemmas always came with a big detached house, and coiffed living and dining rooms, but I get it: those are the target audience who will pay to see a movie. Although this film still dealt with an upper middle class widower’s problem, it told a true- to-life story that was humanistic, decent, and heart-warming.
Walter(Richard Jenkins) is a college professor in Connecticut, he has been teaching the same course for over 20 years, and it is apparent that the passion has long been evaporated. He is demanded by his department head to appear at an academic conference in New York to present a paper that he co-authored. He keeps an empty flat in New York, cause his departed wife was a professional pianist, and she must have given concerts in New York before; hence the flat. He arrives at the apartment to find out a dweller is in the bathtub: Zainab(Danai Gurira) from Senegal. Confused, and feeling awkward, Walter tries to ward off Zainab’s boyfriend, Tarek(Haaz Sleiman)’s advances. After some commotion, Zainab and Tarek admit they are actually the true trespassers, and prepare to pack and leave before Walter calls the police. They are illegal aliens.
Walter opens his heart and asks the couple to stay with him while they sort out their affairs. Quickly, a friendship is developed. Walter has been trying to learn piano to commemorate his beloved wife, but he hasn’t been successful. Instead Tarek teaches him to play the Djembes. The drama arrives when Tarek get arrested for alleged jumping a tilt in the subway.
Tarek’s mother Mouna(Hiam Abbass) arrives after not having heard from her son. Walter welcomes her and asks that she stays at the apartment until Tarek is released from the detention centre in Queen’s. Walter’s guilt becomes his mission to help Tarek’s release; he hires a lawyer for him.
Tarek and Mouna came from Syria and have been living in US illegally for over five years; luck finally has caught up with them.
This film echoed the political climate of being Middle-Eastern descent in the US after 9/11. In other words, terrorist profiling was at its height. Unfortunately, the 20% usually ruins the opportunity the 80% would have very much enjoyed in circumstances like this.
The contrast of “problems” between two different parts of the same world is what causes much disturbing dissonance.
I liked the ending…very much.
WATCH… and find out how it ends.