TIFF 2019 Film Review: “My English Cousin” (2019) ★★★

Watching films is one thing, but documentaries is something complete different. The real-life story, frankly, same as the fictional one, manages to develop a specific language to convey as a message we otherwise could miss. The message that is full of difference, multi-cultural and life-teaching, same as was done in “My English Cousin”.

The home sweet home is one of the most famous quotes, but hardly can be used by those who flee their country for one main reason – their current home is no longer warm, sweet and safe to stay. Karim Sayad`s second feature to be presented at TIFF this year follows his cousin`s quest named Fahed, the man who left his beloved Algeria for England back in 2001. Through this incredibly moving journey, we learn a lot about Fahed, how gentle he is, kind and friendly. Moreover, no matter what, his heart desires one thig – to get back to place he once flee away – home.

The film does not concentrate on an immigration process, but rather focuses on how an immigrant Fahed integrated into society, learned a foreign language, contributes to the country he lives through his hard work at a bread factory. He even got married to an English woman, lived with her for 12 years, but only to get divorced but to remain dear friends. Fahed, same as the film itself, opens up a fascinating look into what one man can chew as a foreigner, as an immigrant and become part of the society, normally rejects the newbies as a threat that it can take away a comfort zone of those who cherish it so badly.

There`s a lot to learn from Fahed, and even more to understand about his life choices. NO matter what, how hard it can be for him, the camera is calm, patient and precise when it knows what frame to take to capture that intimate feelings of a man who normally tries to hide it. But overall, it`s a heartwarming story of one individual no matter what, the obstacles he faces in life, still does it in his own way and succeeds it.

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