One of the nicest movies I have seen this month is in fact part of DIFF 2012 in Arabic, ‘When Monaliza Smiled’. This Arabic movie (with subtitles of course) is a love story between Monaliza, a young Jordanian woman, and Hamdi, an Egyptian office boy with the cutest smile J. The story is touching as its shown in parallel with other related stories that reveal some very real human feelings, situations, realities often similar to what people endure in many other countries except that this is in Jordan.
I met the director at Mall of the Emirates, Fadi G.Haddad who mentioned the movie was filmed entirely in Jordan. I recognized elements of the views from my visit to Amman and how much character some of the areas in the city had. He has done an amazing job.
The actress who plays Monaliza is gorgeous even though initially she rarely smiles. She works in a government office, where she meets Hamdi and together they dream of a life straight out of the romantic movies of the past as we see scenes within the film with Omar Sharif and Faten Hamama… Their fantasy is challenged as they’re surrounded by inquistive individuals, who impose restrictions typical of Amman’s society which to be honest is similar in many Muslim communities as I have been told and witnessed in Fiji and Malaysia.
I loved the fun-loving nature of Hamdi in contrast to Monaliza and it was nice to see their relationship blossom as Hamdi shows her a life from a new perspective that is about trying new things, visiting new places etc. I guess we meet many Hamdi’s in our day-to-day life – young men who live away from their home to support their families, the challenges they face and their love for life where they take joy in the simplest of things that we ignore because of the rat race. It was also beautiful to see the story of Monaliza’s neighbor who lost her husband who was never found but every day she washes his clothes, prepares dinner and makes herself beautiful in the event that he will turn up at her door one day, unexpected.
I loved the movie for the purity of the romance, the way the characters enjoyed the ordinary things in life, the family obligations we often get caught up in, the love we wait for despite knowing that it may be in vain and so much more that it is hard to do justice in a few paragraphs.
If you do see ‘When Monaliza Smiled’ during DIFF, let me know your thoughts on the movie.