A film we overlooked that made its world premiere at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival last week, is Moroccan-born French filmmaker Philippe Faucon’s drama, Amin, which was selected to screen as part of the festival’s Directors’ Fortnight (French: Quinzaine des Réalisateurs) – a parallel section which showcases a program of shorts, feature films and documentaries from across the globe.
Amin follows the title character, played by Senegalese actor Moustapha Mbengue, starring as a Senegalese man who travels to France to find work to support his family (his wife Aïsha and their three children) who remain in Senegal. After 9 years in France, seeing his family only once or twice a year, they come to accept their distant relationship as a necessity for survival, although certainly not ideal. But the distance gradually becomes detrimental, as they start to grow apart. Living in France, isolated from his family, lonely, with nothing but work filling his days, the dutiful Amin eventually succumbs after he meets a French woman named Gabrielle (a nurse with a child of her own, recently separated from her husband), and gets involved with her romantically.
Amin stars Moustapha Mbengue, Emmanuelle Devos and Marème N’Diaye.
The film can be considered a continuation of director Philippe Faucon’s interest in immigrant stories. The filmmaker, who has a reputation for politically-engaged cinema, saw his last work – 2016’s Fatima (which also tackles a France-set immigrant tale, and screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival) – receive four nominations at the 41st César Awards (the French equivalent of the Oscars), winning the Best Film César trophy, as well as the César award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Produced by Faucon’s Istiqlal Films production company, Amin was scripted by the filmmaker, along with Mustapha Kharmoudi and Yasmina Nini-Faucon.
Reviews following its Cannes Film Festival world premiere are sparse and mostly appreciative of the work, with The Hollywood Reporter saying: “Faucon’s compassion for his subjects and their sacrifices is unquestionable, as is the integrity in his reluctance to milk their problems for cheap emotional effect. But what felt like a graceful simplicity in Fatima too often feels like oversimplification in Amin. It’s good that this measured, methodical, deeply empathetic filmmaker gives voice to those who form France’s sizable and diverse underclass; it might also be interesting, next time, to let them roar.”
Cineuropa was far more invested: “In a style which is anything but ostentatious and far removed from the world of sudden, dramatic twists, Philippe Faucon (co-writer of the screenplay with Yasmina Nini-Faucon and Mustapha Kharmoudi) seamlessly and methodically brings together a highly insightful picture, steadily incorporating the many issues inherent to this subject (exile, money, emotions, family, the invisible barriers created by skin color and social strata, economic exploitation, sometimes at the cost of lives or, at the very least, causing isolation, the sense of solidarity that is felt in hostels and among immigrants who play a role in efforts in their countries of origin to ensure the education of future generations, etc.). With its many strengths and highly controlled, stripped-back filming style, which homes in on what counts – looks, attitudes, gestures, and words – Amin is, first and foremost, a film about people and a cinematographic project of very high standing.”
Amin has no USA playdates at this time (local festivals will likely pick it up), and it has yet to be acquired for stateside distribution, although Faucon’s last film, the aforementioned César Award-winning Fatima, was acquired and released in the USA by Kino Lorber; so there’s a chance that the relationship he now has with that company might place Amin in a good position to have an American theatrical future.
No trailer is available for the film at this time, although, courtesy of Cineuropa, below are a couple of clips from the film (with English subtitles):