‘Lamya’s Poem’ Review – The Hollywood Reporter

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In her sleep, Lamya desires of fireflies: Their yellow glow guides her by way of the grassy inexperienced fields of her creativeness. In these desires, Lamya, wearing a plain white costume, frolics and giggles. For this 12-year-old Syrian woman, these visions are a strategy to escape — if solely briefly — her harmful and proscribing actuality.

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Lamya’s Poem is ostensibly about the titular character’s life in Aleppo in 2016 and the way battle upends it, forcing her and her mom to turn into refugees. This delicate story has the potential to be an affecting film about the detrimental affect of struggle and the way what we vaguely consult with as a “refugee disaster” is man-made. But, sadly, the film’s lack of narrative focus prevents it from fulfilling its goal.

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Lamya’s Poem

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The Bottom Line

Well-intentioned however misses the mark.

Venue: Vancouver Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema)
Cast: Millie Davis, Aya Bryn, Raoul Bhaneja, Mena Massoud
Director-screenwriter: Alex Kronemer

1 hour 28 minutes

The film opens with Lamya (voiced by Millie Davis) waking up from a daydream turned bitter, her firefly reveries interrupted by a pair of menacing purple eyes. Later, we be taught that the “eyes” eerily resemble the infrared lights of troopers (their nationalities by no means made clear) — patrolling the streets of Lamya’s neighborhood. The dulcet voice of Lamya’s mom (Aya Bryn) breaks her trance and we, together with Lamya, are progressively transported again to actuality, one during which the woman eagerly awaits the arrival of her trainer, Mr. Hamadini (Raoul Bhaneja).

When she sees him approaching her constructing, an excited Lamya rushes from her put up on the window into the opposite room, the place her mom asks perfunctory however well-meaning questions about her assignments and tries to flatten the cussed collar of Lamya’s costume shirt. The opening moments of Lamya’s Poem assuredly and intimately set up the routine of the protagonist’s life. Like most preteens, Lamya loves to hang around together with her mates, hearken to music and indulge within the finer issues — like ice cream. Where her life differs from many different youngsters’, nonetheless, is that she lives underneath the fixed risk of violence from airstrikes.

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But, fortunately, earlier than the film will get to that, it meditates a bit extra on Lamya’s life. Instead of attending college, Lamya, presumably like most youngsters in her neighborhood, is tutored by Mr. Hamadini. This specific go to from her trainer is completely different, although, as a result of he has introduced her a guide of Rumi’s poems. “He lived a very long time in the past,” Mr. Hamadini says of the Thirteenth-century Persian author. “But thousands and thousands of individuals all over the world are nonetheless impressed and helped by his phrases.” The graying trainer launches right into a story of Rumi and the way he was a refugee when he wrote his poems. He tells Lamya they’ll focus on them subsequent time.

Unfortunately, that chance by no means comes. Before Mr. Hamadini and Lamya can meet once more, their neighborhood is bombed. Every construction in it, from the nook ice cream retailer to Lamya’s residence, is destroyed. Lamya and her mom are compelled to depart Aleppo, promoting all the pieces they personal to safe spots on a dingy raft heading to an unknown metropolis.

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During the perilous journey, Lamya takes refuge in Rumi’s poems. Her fantasies turn into more and more vivid, and one other plotline emerges. In an alternate actuality, set in 1221, Lamya meets the younger Rumi, or Jalal (Mena Massoud), as everybody calls him. The younger man, not but a poet, is, for some peculiar purpose, attempting to plant a reed. He shortly abandons the mission, although, and asks Lamya if she’s heading towards the town. The two start an journey collectively, which principally includes Lamya attempting to assist Rumi turn into the good poet in whose work she’ll ultimately take solace.

If that each one sounds complicated, it’s as a result of it kind of is. Lamya’s Poem has all of the makings of a clear-eyed film, however it by no means fairly comes collectively for me. Part of this has to do with its intentions. It opens as a narrative about a woman and her mom compelled to take a deadly journey, however then sidelines that to discover an alternate universe centered on Rumi and his personal improvement. An argument for this choice could possibly be that the director, Alex Kronemer, needs to emphasise that each Rumi and Lamya are refugees, however there’s much less dedication to this idea than to the Persian boy’s coming-of-age narrative.

As Lamya retreats into her desires, the plotline involving Rumi is much less compelling than the one which takes place in 2016. The journey that Lamya, her mom and different households from their neighborhood undertake incorporates sufficient materials for a lot of tales. The film explores them, to some extent. The stakes of involuntarily uprooting your total life are excessive, and the teachings to be gleaned — about the price of mindless wars and the humanity of Muslim individuals — appear extra aligned with the film’s goal. (I ought to notice that it was produced by Unity Production Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to preventing non secular bigotry and headed by Kronemer.) Yet Lamya’s Poem chooses to sketch these particulars as an alternative of burrowing into them. More specificity might have taken the film’s clear curiosity in good and evil and the ability of storytelling to a different stage. Who are the troopers patrolling Lamya’s neighborhood? What is their relationship to the townspeople? Where do Lamya and her mom find yourself?

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What the film does as an alternative is gesture at solutions to those questions. This method may be an try and gear the mission towards a really younger viewers, though there are moments when the themes are handled in a manner that feels extra mature. This leads to an absence of tonal consistency — one which isn’t helped by the film’s refined however generally unengaging animation. While there’s advantage in a spare drawing fashion, Lamya’s Poem doesn’t have the narrative heft nor the clear intentions to help it, leaving us with a well-intentioned however complicated mission.

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