Laila Bouzid … Love, desire and language between them

It is no exaggeration to say that the film made by director Laila Bouzid is entitled A story of love and desire This is a wonderful bar. The reason for his description of this is not related to his visual output, nor his music or the actions of the actors in it. It’s true that all his pranks are part of his splendor, but there’s more than that, and it makes what Bou Zeid has achieved seem like a masterpiece: especially the screenplay surprises viewers by jumping over clichés that could easily lapse into has. It.

The main story in this scenario should be shortened a bit: Farah (Zoubaida Belhadj Amro), a Tunisian girl, who comes to Paris to study literature at the Sorbonne, meets Ahmed (Sami Outalbali), a Frenchman of Algerian origin , living with his family in a suburb. They fall in love, and the first thing asked is a question about love, desire, sex and the Arabic language, which Farah can but Ahmed does not. This story could easily have been boring, superficial and wandering, but it is not.

The first cliché that Bouzid jumped on is the one that is constantly present in French-Arab films, that is, the social cliché. It was possible for that story to revolve around a girl coming from the Arab world to Paris or any other European city, so the narrative of her journey is based on the comparison between life in her first country and life in France : get rid of old customs and traditions, or clash with what we might call customs Modern traditions, etc. As for her role in Bou Zeid’s movie, Farah is not, on the contrary, the heroine of her destiny, which means that she is not dependent on any of these different customs and traditions, but rather what she wants is to bring about this new place to discover. where she came from, it’s Paris itself.

As for that, or rather about it, it is Ahmed, the boy who lives in this place, who imposes his rules on him in his small community, including his companions. Here, too, Bouzid again skips the cliché, because the presentation of that community, as part of the suburb, can lead to its direct stereotyping: suburbs of Arab origin, Muslims, enclosed areas, and so on. However, Bou Zeid shows without pretension that Ahmed’s small community, and when he imposes his strict rules on him, these rules, and before the Dahiya movement itself, do not stand and get no place for it. So I praise him, and while he appears, and because of his friendship with those who are convinced, to take it lightly, he does not hesitate to throw it behind him, and he does so heroically as well. Consequently, the cliché does not block Farah and Ahmed, but rather that Bouzid transfers his hero to another problem.

This problem is a problem posed by love, and its occurrence between the two heroes, but it is not related to it. The love is clear between them, and it started somewhat from the first glance, but there is what does not happen between them, it is the sexual relationship. Ahmed is ashamed, and Farah realizes this, and she helps him to overcome his shyness towards her, so that she provides him with time, and all the time, to stabilize an encounter between their two bodies. In parallel with the fact that this relationship is not easy between them, Arabic poetry is present in the lessons of comparative literature.

Bou Zayd focuses on a specific aspect of this poetry, known as al-Adhari or al-Badawi: the distance of the poet or poet from his lover or from her lover is a circumstance that he shares the poems with or composed together, and these systems are systems of desire for it or also in it, or it is the preservation of this desire. The distance, as a distance between the two, preserves the desire, which is at the same time carried into the language, to become involved in it as poetry. In this context, the distance opened by love between Ahmed and Farah, as in virgin or Bedouin love, is a distance of desire between them. In fact, Bouzid was able to build this distance between her two heroes, with a kind of inertia, as they both seem to care about the desire they may organize, and not just about the sexual relationship itself. In another way, desire, in this respect, even if it seems sexual, is not just that, that is, it is not a desire to have intercourse, but that intercourse is one of its consequences. It is a desire on all levels between the two heroes, that it inhabits their love, and makes it very much alive.

With that slowdown, Bouzid built up the distance of desire between Farah and Ahmed, and for this reason she leaned on the position of language in it. Ahmad, with his love for Farah, confronts his relationship with the Arabic language. This is the language of his parents, who did not pass it on to him. Based on this, it seems that he, and when Farah asks him about his knowledge of this language, and her answer that he does not speak it, is at a distance from his beloved. Between him and her there is an absent language, a language on the one hand, on the side of Farah, but on his part he has to fight it to fight the desire in his direction. Thus, the problem of desire between them, embodied in the difficulty of their sexual relationship, is related to the problem of language: the absence of Arabic between them digs the distance they separate, and this distance, and around the hero to cross it and go to the heroine, he must get to know Arabic himself. Bou Zeid presents it all with a scene-knot, which I sum up so as not to overthrow the tension of those who have a way of watching the film: A fight takes place between Farah and Ahmed, due to the fact that the hero does not show the heroine that he really likes the physical encounter with her, and for this she leaves him and leaves him a written message in Arabic. He cannot decipher this message, and with it he takes viewers on a journey to the reality of Arabic in France. He goes to his friend and asks him to translate the letter for him into French, but this friend tells him that he speaks Arabic but he does not read or write in it, only the imam does it, and his father. Ahmed, however, does not go forward, the letter may be an erotic poem, and for this he prefers to seek another solution.

It should be noted here that Bou Zeid’s film, like all films that deserve to be watched, touches on topics without raising them, so it is characterized by the ability to allude to it without exaggeration. The director raises the issue of the Arabic language in France, and shows its status: Who speaks it? How to do? And if the imam speaks it alone, and with him is an old generation of immigrants, to what imaginary is it related? And does this imaginary, when speaking, help to link it to another language, does it help to be a path to another language, like French? Or, on the contrary, is it, and with its association with it, is the path to any other language just to move away from it? These are questions, I think, that the film could ask without being obsessive.

The hero returns to his father, and asks him about the Arabic he did not pass on to him, so he tells him about it, about the fact that he understood it when he was young, and then he helps him to to decipher the message. Thus, something is happening, and Bouzid portrayed it in a penetrating way in the scene of the hero’s dance. This dance is the impact of Arabic on him as it was his birth in it, and what is his transition after that. The hero gets to know Arabic, and with this there is a desire of him for the desire of Farah in him, and with this their love lives on.

Love is always an encounter between two foreign languages, according to the Analytical Clinic. It is possible to rely on Bou Zeid’s film, to add a certain thing: love is what makes every language a “foreign” language, that is, the one that does not speak it, since, by the desire for love itself, he discovers that it is essentially his language.


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