Review by Cameron Maitland.
Ahmed El Maanouni’s Burned Hearts is a one of those strange films that is simultaneously forgettable and entrancing. No doubt, the story of a young architect’s return to his hometown of Fez will disappear nearly-instantly from the audience’s mind, but elements of the film will definitely linger.
The story revolves around Amin’s return home to deal with his dying uncle, occasionally flashing back to their tormented and abusive relationship. The film slowly blossoms out to a picaresque tale as Amin meets numerous characters - including love struck tile-maker Aziz, caged beauty Hourya and her amusing and strange Bob Marley-loving brother. While the focus is clearly on Amin’s abuse, the story dips into class issues, family and religion as it goes along.
The most striking aspect of the film, aside from its beautiful black and white photography, is the music. Each of the characters often - and naturally - burst into song and the film takes quick pauses for dance numbers whether they are part of the plot or not. At first this genre switch is a bit jarring but, by keeping the music relevant and the pauses briefer than any western or Bollywood musical does, these interludes becomes a delightful and integral part of the narrative.
Unfortunately, overwrought acting and melodramatic plotlines can be greatly underscored when they are read in another language, in another culture. Though the film shoots for grander things, the plot barely keeps its head above soap-opera drama and there are times when the acting, especially by Hicham Bahloul as Amin, leave a lot to be desired. It is a shame to say but even though the film is beautifully constructed, it is completely undone by its own lacklustre plot.
Ahmed El Maanouni | Morocco | 2007 | 84min
Sun. Sept. 28 | 2:30pm | Empire Granville, Theatre 2
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