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Cinéfranco 2016: “As I Open My Eyes” (2015) ★★★


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In some countries, there is no freedom of speech and the government is so corrupt that it uses every opportunity to silence every voice they can. Farah (Baya Medhaffar) is one of those voices they hear but can hardly find the source of it.

Leyla Bouzid’s As I Open My Eyes follows Farah, a young woman at the crossroads of destroying her future to build one. She is accepted to a medical school and due to that, her family could not be more proud of her, especially her mother (Ghalia Benali). However, her passion for music, singing, and love for Bohrène (Montassar Ayari) brings her amidst political conflict through music and the lyrics that irritates the government’s ears.

Farah is quite a modern girl who we find in the Tunisian summer of 2010. She drinks an awful lot, enjoys her youth, and her braveness is something that you will be afraid may set her a trap before she realizes. The musical band is underground and forbidden by the local police. When you hear the lyrics from their song, you would certainly understand that nobody wants lyrics to go out of the club that conveys the message to the houses of people whose vision can be changed once they hear them.

Hayet, Farah’s mother can’t find rest and tries to convince Farah to abandon the band and get back to study. She tries to convince her own daughter in danger the streets of Tunisia can bring her, and based on little hints provided, we could easily tell that Hayet certainly knew what she was talking about. But because of Farah’s stubbornness and young blood, she aggressively advances in her political vision by doing something that, one day, with a blink of an eye she disappears from in front of her mother’s eyes.

Leyla Bouzid’s As I Open My Eyes captures the Tunisian picture so colorfully. She shows the life or the expectation the youth might have, and their parents who always must look over their shoulders and get ready to protect their loved ones when the time comes. Unfortunately, that time will come for Hayet, who must face the biggest fear in her life – not being able to see her daughter once again. Does that happen or not, it won’t matter once you approach the more dramatic part of the film, because from that moment on, the characters you knew in the beginning won’t be the same again. Ever!

 

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