Sisterhood has lately become a topic of discussion. Be it the US ball culture from the ’80s or the way several Asian societies treat their women, female characters are being portrayed not as victims, but rather as fighters. They do not exist merely to be a symbol of survival. They own up their unconventional choices and do not let someone else make any choice for them. They want complete control over their body and rightly so. These women existed before as well but hardly ever were they represented as widely as the last couple of years. Adam (2019) – The Moroccan Entry for the Academy awards works upon similar notions.
It places two of its female characters in a country where conservative values are the norms. In these countries, having a baby without marriage isn’t liberating. It’s something that is looked down upon. It’s considered as shameful. So here, the liberation begins with basic human empathy that lets women be the figures liberating one another while understanding each other’s lives.
Samia (Nisrin Errandi) a considerably young woman roams around a Moroccon town looking for a way to earn. By looking at how desperate she is, her dire need to earn the basic bread-and-butter becomes apparent. But almost no one responds to her. Rather no one wants to, since giving a single, pregnant lady any job will malign their reputation. At the time, being an unwed, pregnant woman was itself illegal in Morocco.
Similar to Adam (2019) – THE SCARECROWS (LES ÉPOUVANTAILS) : ‘VENICE’ REVIEW- THE HORRORS OF SURVIVAL
In the same journey, while looking for a shelter, Samia comes across the house of a middle-aged lady called Abla (Lubna Hazbal). Just like any other resident, she isn’t forthright to accept Samia either. But looking at her being alone yet firm in the situation she was caught up in, it doesn’t take much for Abla to give her a helping hand. More than solidarity, her interactions presents someone who had been in the same situation. Now, she is just lending the hand that she might have looked for, in the past.
Through numerous ups and downs, Samia’s stance is constantly challenged for how giving birth in a hostile situation has its share of ordeals or the casual jibes. While being used to that, she momentarily finds joy in helping out Abla in her chores and unloading her burden as a single parent. After all, being a woman and the only provider isn’t easy in their place either. So this sweet dynamic between these mutually-connected individuals makes up for half of the film’s noble motives.
What the film succeeds in presenting is the firmness that these two women showcase. They understand the value of life amidst a society that doesn’t seem to care or to look beyond the morality assigned to them. Their stern stance makes it even more courageous and resounding for anyone stuck in the social fringes. They’re an iota of the society that is usually avoided or goes unseen by a large part for which they have to live their daily lives with shame or guilt.
While the noble-minded intentions of Maryam Touzani (writer-director) are highly evocative, they don’t go much beyond what the similar narratives have gone with the subject of the liberation of women. The performances by Lubna Hazbal and Nisrin Errandi do make up for the empathizing drama it aspires to be. But the efforts fall a tad shorter even in the filmmaking department, which gets redundant in the way it tries to present the emotions.
While we know the situations that Samia and Abla are in, the script doesn’t add much depth to the characters apart from their dynamics with the outer world. It is limited to the ideas of what an outsider like me would know about their situation. A deeper and more intimate lookout in terms of writing towards understanding their characters and the inner-conflict could have made it the heart-wrenching drama it wants to be at times.
Suffice to say that despite my reservations, both the central performances offer a very natural and subtle synthesis of the amount of pathos assigned to their characters. They are incredibly effective even when the visuals are not. As a result, ‘Adam’ remains to be a film about females without the much-required depth to sustain a viewer throughout its duration.