London Film Festival 2016 review: Mimosas

Director: Oliver Laxe

1h 36min | Drama | 22 May 2016 (Morocco)

Playing London Film Festival 2016

RATING: ★★★☆☆

Though it will probably seem too obscure and meandering for some, the Smoke Screen was quite charmed by Oliver Laxe’s North African odyssey film Mimosas, which is a strange quest story apparently influenced by the tradition of Sufi narrative. Most of the film takes place in the striking canyons, ravines and vast sand highways in and around the Atlas Mountain region, which all offer up some sumptuous backdrops for this odd, elliptical tale. Kudos is due to Mauro Herce’s excellent cinematography, with some sequences being truly magnificent, especially the repeated shots of a fleet of taxis kicking up dust as they cross the desert. Beginning in an unnamed and run-down Moroccan city, we see a strange young man named Shakib(Shakib Ben Omar) – an overeager storyteller type who is treated as something of a harmless oddball by the locals – get given the job of ensuring that a dying sheikh reaches his destination on a journey through the Atlas Mountains. 

The Sheikh aims to get to the medieval city of Sijilmasa, where he will be buried, though the surroundings the main characters find themselves in give the impression at times that the entire film is actually occurring in the medieval era. Shakib ends up being teamed with two roguish members of the caravan, Saïd (Said Aagli) and Ahmed (Ahmed Hammoud), who might have more nefarious purposes, but after the Sheikh dies, the retinue ends up being a corpse bearing mission. A variety of unfortunate events continue to befall the group, but Shakib continues to see things in epic terms, right through to the film’s unclassifiable last act that covers travelogue, fable and even aspects of a Western with some moments of black comedy thrown in. Will probably appeal to fans of films like Jauja.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

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