This subtitled import captures class differences and gay subculture in beautiful Tunisia. When Malik (Antonin Stahly) leaves Paris for his Tunisian homeland, he must deal with his father’s death and his loving but smothering mother (Italian superstar Claudia Cardinale).
Never treating Malik as a thirty-year-old or wanting to acknowledge his homosexuality, his mother tries to trap him at home by marrying him off to a woman. Unfortunately for her, though, the man she turned into a live-in handyman becomes the true object of Malik’s romantic affections. Balil (Salim Kechiouche from Full Speed and 3 Dancing Slaves) initiates a friendship that quickly becomes more.
Separated by class from many of the people he obviously cares about, Malik also must struggle with Islamic attitudes toward gays, and with his inability to be honest with his mother. Director Mehdi Ben Attia navigates these conflicting attitudes and emotions by examining how the characters interact, and even through glances or moments of silence.
The source of the film’s title soon becomes obvious. Malik sometimes actually sees a string that apparently causes his shirts to unravel. Those scenes seem too surreal to belong in this particular movie, but they eventually make sense.
Attia’s film comes together in satisfying and believable ways. The script, which he co-wrote with Olivier Laneurie, comes alive in the hands of a gifted cast.
Distributed by TLA Releasing.
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