Keeping up with some of the movies doing the rounds in the International Circuit, I finished watching the new Arabic film Farha which is streaming on Netflix. Farha is Jordan’s official entry to the Academy Awards this year and that is one reason why I was really looking forward to watching this film.
We all have been taught history as a subject in school with the prime focus being on the history of your land and how it did transform into what it is today. However, we aren’t privy to some of the historic events which may have transpired around the same timeline elsewhere across the globe. So if I had to give you an example, we all know about the turn of events of 1947 leading up to the formation of Pakistan, a land previously part of India. However, I was oblivious of the 1948 Palestinian Exodus that had transpired as a result of civil war. I have a fascination for history and culture yet am appalled at the repetitiveness of events from which humanity fails to learn at any given point of time. One such story unfolds in the film Farha, so then is Farha worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Set against the backdrop of the 1948 Palestinian exodus and based on a book, Farha recalls the events of a young girl caught in a tragic situation. The story is traumatic and will potentially subject you to nightmares, long after the film has ended. The screenplay standing at just 90 minutes does make for a brisk watch but the events picturized are so cerebral and daunting that it turns out to be a very disturbing and difficult watch.
The drama opens with the introduction of the protagonist Farha, who is a regular girl who wishes to study. Her father wants to marry her off and there are signs of an inherent patriarchy that was, is and unfortunately will linger on for generations. You get a glimpse of the surroundings and instantly know that it is leading up to something. The tension in the drama is slowly built up that begins with resentment and later fear. When the conflict actually is showcased, it does seem like a stray event to begin with, but the chaos just keeps escalating and piling up.
The drama is thoroughly engaging and engrossing but also traumatic and claustrophobic. In a tragic turn of events, the protagonist finds herself locked in a pantry and this entire sequence formulates a major part of the film. So if you are expecting a war-like drama then this ain’t that film. This is a human story of fighting on despite all odds. It is suffocating even for viewers to witness the events unfolding inside the pantry. The setting, lighting and the ambience add a fresh new dimension where fear isn’t the only emotion at play.
It is the last 35 minutes which are nothing short of a nightmare. Here the drama is designed such that the violence plays out inside the viewer’s head which is already reeling from claustrophobia. It is powerful yet depressing wherein the makers leave no stone unturned in a cerebral yet spine-chilling display of violence. You are filled with multiple emotions, one that wants you to cry and the other grappling with fear of what tragedy would transpire next. This was probably the most difficult period also featuring a baby that will make your heart pound with fear and with jitters. The tragedy at the end is so powerful that it will linger on long after the film has ended. Trigger Warning – if you are suffering from depression, please do not watch this film! All in all, the screenplay here is traumatic, claustrophobic and brilliantly penned.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are minimal here and the use of silence here is deafening. The BGM relies on the natural sounds of guns going off or rattling against one another. But the most terrifying scene did involve a baby wailing away as the protagonist did try to escape from the pantry. The impact was bone-chilling! The cinematography and lighting add to the claustrobia thereby adding a layer of fear to the drama. Director Darin J Sallam does an incredible job in creating a taut drama which is brilliantly nightmarish and traumatic. Yet she also does provide a surprisingly gentle female gaze that makes the drama deeply grounded to reality.
The performances are brilliant here. All actors are good but the film does rely on the young shoulders of Karam Taher who is brilliant as Farha. There is texture to her character who wants to fly yet is shackled to the tragic reality. It is through her gaze that the viewers experience the drama and she does pack in the right amount of expressions and emotions in a brilliantly towering performance.
Farha is a brilliantly traumatic drama that will haunt you long after the film has ended. Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended!