Motherhood is hard.
The generational gap looms large nowadays, especially for children of immigrant parents. One such immigrant mother, Fatima, embodies the self-sacrificial nature essential to allowing her daughters to succeed without losing her personality and backbone. With a gorgeous musical score and committed actors, Fatima is a film to see with your mother, sister, or a dear friend. The kind of love shown here isn’t often portrayed as simply and cleanly as it is here, so it’s certainly not something to miss.
Between the younger daughter going off the rails at school while the elder one struggles her way through medical school, while also falling in love at what she feels is the worst possible time, Fatima has her work cut out for her- not to mention the boss that doesn’t trust her as a maid and foreigner. Yet she pushes through with a firmly pinned headscarf and her piecemeal French- although she’s still using Arabic at home, much to her younger daughter’s chagrin. Fatima is not a pushover, despite having to play one for a living.
It’s not until she falls down the stairs and breaks her arm that she finally decides to slow things down- that, and a few well chosen words spewed from her daughter’s mouth: “Mum, you’re useless!” as she paraphrases to the bilingual doctor. Perhaps what’s most surprising is when she takes out her own thoughts on paper. She reminds the doctor and the audience that every bourgeoise person in the world owes something to “some Fatima”, whether it’s a maid who cleans their house or a nanny who watches their children. She plays an important role in the ecosystem of economics, and she could’ve been a Minister if she stayed in school!
As with most French films, much is left unresolved, but it’s all worth it to see the smile on Fatima’s face when she uses her reading glasses to find her daughter’s passing score on the bulletin board.
The film hits theaters this Friday.