Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) 'Chocolate City' Finally Gets a Trailer + Release Date Set (Might It Steal Some of 'Magic Mike's' Summer Thunder?) Barbie Is Honoring Ava DuVernay (and Other "Sheroes") With Her Very Own Doll. Have a Look... Barbie Is Honoring Ava DuVernay (and Other "Sheroes") With Her Very Own Doll. Have a Look... BET Unveils 2015-2016 Slate Additions: New Original Scripted & Unscripted Series, Movies, News Specials & More BET Unveils 2015-2016 Slate Additions: New Original Scripted & Unscripted Series, Movies, News Specials & More Jada Pinkett Smith's Fish Mooney Will Return to 'Gotham' Streets with a New Look & Tougher Than Ever Jada Pinkett Smith's Fish Mooney Will Return to 'Gotham' Streets with a New Look & Tougher Than Ever Mo'Nique Presents Email Evidence That Shows She Was in Contention for the Role of Cookie in 'Empire' Mo'Nique Presents Email Evidence That Shows She Was in Contention for the Role of Cookie in 'Empire' Films & TV Series Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library In May Films & TV Series Coming to (and Leaving) Netflix's Streaming Library In May James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson Will Share a Stage Again in a Revival of 'The Gin Game' James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson Will Share a Stage Again in a Revival of 'The Gin Game' Watch: Michael Jackson’s Movie Career Summed Up in 7 Minutes Watch: Michael Jackson’s Movie Career Summed Up in 7 Minutes Watch First Trailer for 'Desperate Housewives - Africa' + Individual Character Profiles Watch First Trailer for 'Desperate Housewives - Africa' + Individual Character Profiles Watch Trailer for Jordan Davis Documentary, '3 1/2 Minutes.' Coming to HBO This Fall Watch Trailer for Jordan Davis Documentary, '3 1/2 Minutes.' Coming to HBO This Fall Quentin Tarantino's 'H8ful Eight' Gets a Teaser Trailer (Samuel L. Jackson, Belinda Owino) Quentin Tarantino's 'H8ful Eight' Gets a Teaser Trailer (Samuel L. Jackson, Belinda Owino) Here Are the Cities & Theaters in Which Patrik-Ian Polk's Award-Winning Drama 'Blackbird' Will Open Here Are the Cities & Theaters in Which Patrik-Ian Polk's Award-Winning Drama 'Blackbird' Will Open Trailer: Pilot Project 'First Gen' (The Trials and Tribulations of Being a First Gen Nigerian-American) Trailer: Pilot Project 'First Gen' (The Trials and Tribulations of Being a First Gen Nigerian-American) Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) What to Expect in Season 2 of 'Empire' (Less Opulence; Spike Lee May Direct, Oprah May Guest-Star, More) Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Whoopi Goldberg & Daughter Alex Martin Enter Reality TV Series Ring Whoopi Goldberg & Daughter Alex Martin Enter Reality TV Series Ring Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Review: Struggle Between Tradition & Modernity Is At Center Of Painterly Tunisian Drama 'Buried Secrets'

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 3, 2014 at 2:13PM

Review: Struggle Between Tradition & Modernity Is At Center Of Painterly Tunisian Drama 'Buried Secrets'
0
Anonymes

From Tunisia comes Anonymes (Buried Secrets), from filmmaker Raja Amari.

The entire film takes place in a mansion, and centers on 3 women living in what they believe to be an empty house; they're squatters. Their lives are considerably disrupted when a young couple moves into the house - a couple that initially isn't at all aware that there are squatters present with them. So what we have here is a peculiar coexistence that develops within the walls of the house, because the women don't want to reveal themselves to their unwanted new house-mates, and they have no intention of leaving either. And so begins the dance as they try to continue living out their lives in this house, while also ensuring that the young couple doesn't become aware of their presence.

What was most interesting for me, and that I really gave little thought to, until I'd finished watching the film, is that I watched it without English subtitles (the screener I received didn't have that option, although it may have been a problem with my DVD player), and yet, I understood almost everything that happened that comprises the story.

It's a Tunisian drama, with characters speaking in Arabic, and the only subtitles available were French. Granted I can read a little bit of French, but I'm far from what you'd call competent in the language; however, I was able to follow the drama as it unfolded, because the filmmaker (Raja Amari) adhered to that old film school principle, one of the first things you learn, which is, show don't tell. And Amari does such a wonderful job of telling the film's story using the images primarily. 

It's so rare to watch such a quiet film (not only is the dialogue minimal, and there are no subtitles, but there's practically no soundtrack), and be able to understand, appreciate, and be moved by it all.

The painterly images, thanks in part to the location (a beautiful rustic mansion, with adornments that give it a striking visage), the production design, the costume design and cinematography, definitely help in holding your gaze; the frames are at times busy, but not-so much that you're distracted. Instead I found myself wanting to watch the film again just to take in all of the scenery, and live in it for a little while.

There's a definite nod to what I'd call the battle between traditional values versus modernity, in the form of the youngest of the 3 women, all over them seemingly strict adherers to the old ways of living, especially when it comes to the expected roles women are assigned by the society in which they exist, and how they carry themselves in a Muslim country. The youngest envies the life of the woman half of the young couple that moves in - a seemingly modern-day professional, who wears the kind of clothing that the 3 squatters consider "whorish" if you will (jeans, tee-shirts, her hair down, dresses that are above the knee, jewelry, etc - essentially what many others would consider everyday attire).

There's an attempt by the two older women to shield the youngest from that *other* reality, as they live these seemingly very secluded lives. But the young "rebel" clearly won't be denied that which she craves, a desire to grows and strengthens over time, which leads to a rather shocking ending that I didn't see coming at all, and I certainly won't reveal here.

It's a fascinating, quiet character study, and a window into these dueling ideologies - a rueful parable about fear and freedom that shares thematic similarities to other African films – as noted, the well-documented rift between African tradition and modernity, for example; the lure of the trappings of capitalism, dreams deferred, and more. And while curiosity doesn't exactly kill the cat in this instance, it still kills, and the end message the filmmaker seems to want the audience to take away is that modernity wins that battle.

Here's a preview:

This article is related to: Raja Amari


Shadow & ActNewsletter