Faucon has built his story around very gentle, glancing blows. But this is not the focused austerity of a Robert Bresson; the director’s level distance and jaded eye lead more to lifelessness than a revealing simplicity of expression.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
The film appears to have been devised to pander to the presumptions of Western, liberal viewers.
Faucon, obviously very fond of all his characters, carefully avoids the patterns that many genre films fall into.
This poignant slice-of-life proves as modest in length (78 minutes) as it is generous in rueful insight and emotional complexity.
Faucon, whose own grandparents came to France without speaking the language, has a gift for artfully removing the melodrama from potentially overheated situations, leaving behind a scenario that is honest, direct and dramatic without any sense of special pleading or situations pushed too hard.
One of the flaws that keeps the film being as engaging as it might be is the way every shot seems to last about the same amount of time, producing a monotonous visual rhythm that only serves to make the plot seem even more episodic.
Fatima inevitably falls into a catch-22: every time it presents an insightful new cultural situation, it starts to feel less like a film, and more like a series of richly detailed sketches.
Well-observed and unassuming as this film is, it glides along rather too blandly.
If the movie, loosely based on two books by Fatima Elayoubi, tells a familiar story of immigrants struggling to make something of themselves in an alien culture (Fatima speaks some French but reads only Arabic), it does so in a tone that is kindhearted but clearheaded, and the performances are low-key and believable.