Opening 22 May 2014
Writing credits: Reem Kherici, Morgan Spillemaecker, Philippe Lacheau
Principal actors: Reem Kherici, Cécile Cassel, Tarek Boudali, Philippe Lacheau, Shirley Bousquet
Beautiful Maya (Reem Kherici) works for a Parisian fashion house. She looks like a model, owns hundreds of red-soled, very high heels à la Christian Louboutin, and is working on a new dress design which might result in a promotion. Life is good since she left Morocco 20 years ago. Suddenly, it all falls apart. The police stop her on a traffic misdemeanor; see that her residency permit expired a year ago, and send her back to Morocco – back to her churlish father, her teasing brother, his unfamiliar wife, and her grandmother, who only wants the best for her. She hasn’t seen any of them for ten years and can only imagine a return to Paris tout de suite.
This is a film for expats, who can relate to reverse culture shock. How to fit in without feeling superior to those who stayed behind. How to appreciate their viewpoints and customs and habits, which you rejected. Director Reem Kherici (from Tunisia, not Morocco) could borrow many ideas from her own experiences, so that the film is autobiographical in many ways. Originally an actress (she plays the lead here), this is her first experience at directing. She also had the original concept and was one of three script writers. Just experiencing Reem Kherici is already a good reason to see the film. In real life she is the partner of Stephane Rousseau who plays Nicolas, the head of the fashion house, where he hosts a huge show. Many of the actors are her colleagues from former films and TV shows. I still wonder how she managed to wear short shorts while readjusting to Morocco; that calls for a big stretch of the imagination (as do a few other scenes, e.g., her Parisian friends just “happen” to be in Marrakesh). My favorite quote is: “Work is not just sitting at the computer; you also have to hit the keys.” (Becky Tan)