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MOVIES: The Blue Caftan - Review

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The Blue Caftan is a classy, quiet and calm movie from Maryam Touzani, exploring a relationship between Halim and Mina, who have always lived with Halim’s secret: he’s homosexual. As Mina’s illness and the arrival of a new apprentice upends the way things have been. Change happens – with the each the other reckoning with their fears.

It's a film about emotion, about pain; about a love that cannot be displayed publicly. Hidden shame; guilt – death, the exploration of Halim as a noble man yet being forced to hide part of himself is a fascinating character study that actor Saleh Bakri deploys with tenderness and experience that brings out the vulnerable side of the character. Opposite Lubna Azabal, who displays a hidden sense of tenderness – The Blue Caftan hits all its emotional vulnerabilities without the need to be showy or have a big; shouty confrontation: it’s all about the smaller moments that give the film much of its heart.

Beautifully shot from start to finish; and largely just contained to a small series of select locations, this film maximises the passion and unruliness of it all whilst avoiding rushing to its ending. It shows the importance of rare art; the specialist subject of crafting caftans is dying out. The apprentice that Halim hires – Youssef, comes onto the scene in a way that rivals Halim’s quietness – they’re two similar personalities, and the film builds on the moments that they share. The two grow closer as Mina’s illness worsens, and the gradual acceptance of her fate gives the film much of its quieter edge – it’s not in a hurry to get where it’s going but that’s only a good thing. There’s enough room to make this a film with more heightened tension should it wish; but The Blue Caftan is very much something that feels mature enough to not be dragged into a typical narrative.

If you want a film focused on the ordinary; day-to-day of it all, The Blue Caftan will be your jam. It delights in the ordinary, a feat that most films quickly try to brush over or avoid, and it’s such a gift – brought about with as much patience as Halim creates his caftan.

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