Saturday, November 8, 2014

DVDebut: Female desperation gets a workout in Iram Haq's haunting, disturbing I AM YOURS

She's pretty, she's voluptuous, she's smart, she may even be talented (she wants to act), but above all she's needy, and it's that last one that controls her life. "She," a young woman named Mina, of Pakistani heritage now living in Norway, is played by Amrita Acharia, (shown at right and below) in what may be the role of her career -- destined to be seen by few, I'm afraid, as the film in which her performance is the centerpiece, is going straight-to-DVD-and-streaming via Film Movement. Still despite having no theatrical screenings, and hence no critical "push," her film is at least now viewable by American audiences. It title, I AM YOURS, (Jeg er din) could double as Mina's watchwords: from what we see of her choice of men, she'll glom on to literally any fellow who seems to like her.

The writer/director, Iram Haq (shown above, right, with her leading actors: that's Ola Rapace in the center) is of Pakistani heritage, I am guessing, for she details Mina's family life with a smart combination of caring and annoyance (the initial scene with Mina's mother is enough to drive the girl and us viewers up the wall).  How tradition binds us so strongly and terribly, making it difficult to exist in a different, more modern culture, is well-drawn here.

Mina has a six-year-old son (above, being twirled: a lovely and very believable performance from newcomer Prince Singh) from a former relationship. The father, a successful architect, is clearly a responsible fellow, and one of the weaknesses of the film is that it slights Mina's history in ways we would like to know more about. Her mother insists Mina lost this guy due to her flirtatiousness, but mom is not necessarily to be believed. So all we have to rely on is Mina's desperately needy behavior, and so most of the "blame" for her ever more precarious position seem to fall on her own shoulders. She's a little girl who is now a mother and yet she herself must grow up. (Therapy is in order here, and since the location is Norway, one would imagine it can and would be provided by the state.)

Still, that pull between the eastern tradition of family culture against life in a modern Western state must be extremely difficult to bear, and the movie, without insisting too much, makes this situation clear. (There is also a nod to feminism and women's place -- again, without undue push.)

As a psychological character study within a particular time and place, I Am Yours succeeds best. From the looks of things, there does not seem to be much hope for this but I suspect you'll be rooting, against the odds, that Mina will eventually be able to realize and declare, I am mine.  In any case, the movie, worth seeing and mulling, will be available to own (or, in some cases, rent) on DVD and digital platforms come this Tuesday, November 11. And as is often the case, the film should appear soon after on Netflix Streaming.

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