CineFranco 2014: Hold Back Review

Hold Back

Hold Back

There’s a great idea buried within Rachid Djaidani’s (probably purposefully) amateurish and underdeveloped look at love across religious barriers that never quite comes out thanks to a lack of real insight beyond surface level issues and a scattershot style that makes the film a chore to watch instead of conveying a vibrant and important message.

Dorcy (Stephane Soo Mongo) is a young black man in love with a Muslim woman named Sabrina (Sabrina Hamida). Coming from a strict Muslim family that would flat out forbid Sabrina’s impending union to Dorcy, the announcement of their engagement sends one of her 40 brothers, Silmane (Silmane Dazi) to the breaking point. In search of ways to stop the union by any means necessary (since neither sibling has spoken to the other in a long time), Silmane seeks out the help of family members who might intervene violently.

Aside from an all too brief and far too late moment in the film where Dorcy’s mother frowns upon their union, the film is pretty one sided in its critique of Muslim tradition. It’s hard to tell what Djaidani’s ultimate point is since there isn’t much relief to his drum beating to make Silmane look like as big of an unhinged jerk as possible. Dorcy and Sabrina far too often come second with neither getting anything better to do than to profess love for the other. Dazi gives a raw, nuanced performance that brings out a bit of depth in Djaidani’s material, but far too much of the film is spent following Silmane around in circles on his villainous quest to make the audience care about what he’s doing in less than 80 minutes. A snicker-worthy, highfalutin written message from the filmmaker at the very end and some unconscionably headache inducing handheld cinematography make it all hardly worth the effort. (Andrew Parker)

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Screens

Wednesday, April 2nd, 6:00pm, The Royal

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