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Review of ‘The Blue Caftan’, by Maryam Touzani

For fans of social cinema that combines preciousness and humanism.

    In the precious and combative The blue caftan, the Moroccan filmmaker Maryam Touzani turns the main setting of the film, the medina of Salé (one of the oldest in Morocco), into a kind of golden cage in which its three protagonists achieve a certain freedom involved in a series of repressions . On the one hand, we have the couple formed by Halim (Saleh Bakri) and Mina (Lubna Azabal), who hold a tailor shop in which the husband continues the legacy of his father, who dedicated his life to making caftans. The placid daily life of the couple is disturbed by a mysterious illness that affects the woman and by the emergencies imposed by a clientele that values ​​less and less the goldsmith work carried out by Halim. Tensions that will be accentuated by the appearance of Youssef (Ayoub Missioui), a young tailor’s apprentice who arouses the interest of the husband, who in turn keeps secret his sexual encounters with other men in the local hammam.

    Caught between the attachment to a markedly traditional trade and the repression of his homosexuality, Halim’s character is pushed into an interior secrecy, a confinement that Touzani underscores by placing the action in closed spaces. Although the filmmaker is interested in both the sinister side of representation and the beauty of the fabrics and embroidery. In a sense, the director of Adam (2019) seeks to establish a parallelism between the virtuosity of Halim’s craftsmanship and his own delicacy when capturing, with the camera, the gestures in which the fate of the characters is at stake: furtive glances of desire between the tailor and his apprentice, or the care that the husband dedicates to his weakened wife.

    It should be noted that Touzani’s commitment to a physical and subtle cinema is undermined by a certain tendency to make explicit, through action and above all words, the springs of social and human drama. To demonstrate the oppression suffered by the characters, the scriptwriters (Touzani herself and her husband, Nabil Ayouch) conceive a scene in which Halim and Mina are stopped on the street by a plainclothes policeman who demands that they show their marriage certificate. . Fortunately, the constrained script of He caftanblue leaves some valuable lessons along the way. “A caftan must survive the passage of time,” Halim explains to his beloved apprentice. This reflection appeals to the value of tradition, which guides and at the same time weighs down the existence of characters touched by the desire to love and by the shadow of death. This is how, in the private sphere, Touzani builds his emotional song to the union of the disinherited.

    For fans of social cinema that combines preciousness and humanism

    The best: the scenes in which the husband takes care of the wife.

    The worst: the sensation of dramatic calculation that the whole film gives off.


    Address: Maryam Touzani Distribution: Lubna Azabal, Saleh Bakri, Ayoub Missioui. Country: Morocco Year: 2022 Release date: 10–3-2023 Gender: Drama Script:

    Maryam Touzani, Nabil Ayouch

    Synopsis: Halim has been married for a long time to Mina, with whom he runs a traditional kaftan shop in the Salé medina, one of the oldest in Morocco. The couple has always lived with a secret that Halim has learned to hide, but Mina’s illness and the arrival of a young apprentice at the shop threaten to upset this balance.

    Source: Fotogramas

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