Venice 2021- Life Through The Looking Glass in “Amira”: Film Review

Half an inch of ballistic glass is all that separates Nuwar (Ali Suliman), a Palestinian political prisoner, from his family and everything life has to offer. Nuwar has spent his entire married life in a 10×10 prison cell. His ceremony to Warda (Saba Mubarak) took place via camcorder nearly 18 years ago, and yet he has never kissed, held, or even touched his wife. Moments of intimacy between the couple are only through a crackling telephone line. That’s why when the opportunity arises to smuggle his sperm out of the prison and artificially inseminate Warda, he leaps at the chance.

Every part of me that escapes this prison, it feels like a part of me is free.

Nuwar (Ali Suliman)

That small little packet of sperm grows into the titular protagonist of the film, Amira (Tara Abboud). Amira, like most teenagers, is hotheaded and confident to a fault. So when rumors begin to swirl that Nuwar may not be her father, Amira embarks on a quest for the truth about her biological roots.

Nuwar has had to watch his daughter grow and flourish, from infancy to adulthood, from behind that half-inch divider. The only form of normalcy he has is from the photoshopped images of him and his daughter together on various trips that Amira brings him on every visit. These photographs are of memories that never materialized. Yet the emotions that are triggered from these artificial artifacts are as authentic as the paper they’re printed on.

Amira is about discovering the emotional connection we have to one another. Lineage and physical contact can be in danger of dissolving, but the family we make for ourselves is always present, if we truly search for it.

The Silver Lining

While the entire cast is astounding, Saba Mubarak stands out as Amira’s mother, Warda. Unlike her costars, Mubarak only has a couple big outburst scenes, which she nails. The true display of Mubarak’s excellence comes from the solemn moments where Warda’s whole world is about to crumble. Like her character, Mubarak retreats inward, using only her eyes to reflect her despair and misery.

Amira is coming soon to a screen near you.

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