Film primary focuses on Abdellah, a young teenage boy who lives with his parents and 6 siblings in Casablanca. His father and elder brother have their own room whereas his mother, 5 sisters and younger brother all share one rom which gives him the familiar feel of intimacy and closeness. Abdellah is a quiet kid, slightly bullied by everyone and a boy struggling with his sexuality. He looks upto his elder brother Slimane and has a huge crush on him. But since he cannot do anything with him, he finds sexual release with older men in the neighbourhood. Its not very clear if they use him or he uses them. Slimane once takes Abdellah and his younger brother to a seaside holiday but leaves them one day for another girl which kinds of crushes Abdellah’s love and dreams. Fast forward 10 years and Abdellah is now in a relationship with an older Swiss professor and they are having a good time holidaying. Its not very clear as to how and why they got together but in the third segment we see that Abdellah, now a young man, goes to Geneva for his college but arrives a month earlier than planned and has nowhere to go. The professor sees him and offers him love but Abdellah doesn’t want it. Was he really just using the man for his benefit as his ticket out of Morocco, we won’t know? The film ends with Abdellah finding a shelter with the Salvation Army, where his new room mate joins him and finally he may find a friend.
I have to admit, I was really enjoying the first 30 minutes of the film. The setup, the casting, the family dynamics and everything was spot on. Although it gets a little puzzling as to why Abdellah is the way he is but it still is interesting to watch him going through his daily routine, while meeting random guys on streets who have sex with him in construction sites. I am guessing thats not a very uncommon scenario. Similarly Abdellah’s longing for his brother and his subsequent heartbreak when he leaves them for a girl while on a holiday was interesting. Later when Abdellah is with the Swiss professor, his interaction with the boat guy was also interesting. I think culturally, it was acceptable that the local boy found a rich man to take care of him. Had it been just for pleasure, Abdellah would have been judged by everyone. Still, even after finishing the film, I cant tell whether its the men that were exploiting the young Abdellah or it was just his way to get some acceptance of love. The scene when he hugs an older man on the seaside love makes me believe that all along Abdellah is craving for love and affection from someone and he is not getting it. I feel there is too much left untold or unexplored and there is a scope for a lot more. I wonder now what the book is like!
In summary, this is a film that started with a lot of promise in first act but somehow it lost focus and steam and then we as viewers failed to emotionally connect with the main actor and what he really is going through. (5.5/10)