New at the Movies: Fatima
by Robbie Tucker
The plotline in Fatima is one we’re familiar with: single mother struggles to provide for her children. In this, she’s an Algerian immigrant working as a housecleaner in France. She endures not only demeaning behavior of wealthy employers; her two teenage daughters are scornful and ashamed of her work.
It’s the economic story-telling that’s noteworthy in this poignant tale. The editing is taut — scenes long enough to tell all you need, nothing more; the performances are believable — first time actor, Soria Zeroual (Fatima), was actually a cleaning woman when she was cast. And the roles of both daughters come across as honest and realistic.
Writer / Director, Philippe Faucon, who grew up in Morocco and Algeria, adapted Fatima from autobiographical poems and prose by Fatima Elayoubi to winning effect. It was awarded this year’s César for best film and best adaptation. (In French and Arabic with English subtitles.)
About the Reviewer: Robbie Tucker drove a ’55 two-toned Buick Roadmaster in San Francisco, where she started working in film production. She convinced Francis Coppola to let her work on the movie about her namesake, but moved to New York City before shooting began. When she’s not writing her own memoir, or ghost writing someone else’s, you can probably find her at the movies.