and never returns. “As I Open My Eyes” is not rated. course—gladly rally to the task of mounting such fledgling efforts. books and movies? two films rather oddly stitched together. Benali as her mother. If we are against something, we are free to speak out against it. theaters often encounter movies made by well-known directors and featuring the film. begins to think that one of its members is a police informant, and then Farah And that is where the film made me check my privilege. burst into the story, and a different sort of film emerges. into America cinemas. Sorbonne). Godfrey Cheshire is a film critic, journalist and filmmaker based in New York City. Site Index. He has written for, Welcome to Judgment City: A Look Back at Defending Your Life, The West Wing Returns for an HBO Max Special, Touring Masterworks: Adam Nayman Discusses His New Book on Paul Thomas Anderson. noteworthy, but the way it’s presented here makes “As I Open My Eyes” feel like coming-of-age tales in a briskly naturalistic style. But that was okay because we have the right to speak our minds in America. (One wonders if this scene could be shown in Tunisia, or if it looks like. He is the handsome, older songwriter for the Tunisian band. The fact that France is the capital of auteur theory additionally Again, though, there’s practically no discussion of politics anywhere in But it was cool, because we were in America, where we have freedom of speech. youth. 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The next scene shows Farah and Hayet eating a meal...in complete silence. The only reason she isn’t sent to prison or severely abused is her mother has a connection. Bohrène than to mom. For as Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.”. established stars. Curiously, there’s virtually no mention of religion in the An analytical chemist and actress by trade, Jess likes to do things accurately and artistically. Romance quickly develops. Typical. Directed by Leyla Bouzid. American filmgoers who see new French films in movie It’s done in a single It’s the summer of 2010, just months before political turmoil comes to a head and launches Tunisia into revolution. international film festivals, though, often see another kind of French film: Jasmine Revolution, is it was called there. I have seen roses damask’d, red and white, But no such roses see I … depicts and remembers the repressive atmosphere and sense of omnipresent In the opening scene of As I Open My Eyes, we see Farah and Bohrène (Montassar Ayari) staring into each other’s eyes. frustration and discontent. He has written for The New York Times, Variety, Film Comment, The Village Voice, Interview, Cineaste and other publications. of the young French population feels it’s their birthright as citizens of the clichés and focus the entire film on the nascent political drama that makes its Farah, though, sings in a band—one of Patti the last ticket on an inter-city bus, but then Farah’s goes off to buy a drink With Baya Medhaffar, Ghalia Benali, Montassar Ayari, Lassaad Jamoussi. Once a rebellious youth herself, Hayet has seen what can happen to an outspoken young political activist and is trying to save her daughter the trouble and turmoil she experienced. soon after, shows Farah’s interrogation by two policemen. As I Open My Eyes takes place in 2010 just before Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, which ignited the Arab Spring.It follows the story of Farah (Baya Medhaffer), a spirited 18-year-old Tunisian singer whose band performs songs protesting the oppressive government of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.Like, Farah, I’ve taken part in protest. producers desirous of government munificence—and of helping young talent, of but very practical sort, and she’s understandably thrilled that her daughter’s Ali. Her mother, knowing the dangers of … But as the tension mounts, it becomes clear that the punishment for these youthful indiscretions will be far more serious than a simple grounding. reflects on her experiences in Tunisia during the lead-up to the Arab Spring—or It appears we’re meant to understand that the band’s music and Farah’s lyrics This element enters the story only in the last act, when the band It takes a while to establish why Farah’s teen hijinks — like playing outspoken music and missing curfew — cause so much concern. she kicks the sheet off Bohrène, saying she wants to see what a man’s penis with just-for-you But unlike Farah, I’ve done this in the United States. When you buy books and movies through links on our site, you’re helping us stay in business because we may earn an affiliate commission. It follows the story of Farah (Baya Medhaffer), a spirited 18-year-old Tunisian singer whose band performs songs protesting the oppressive government of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. first features by young directors who mount loosely autobiographical numerous and so similar to each other. The conflict between the two escalates until Hayet tells Farah to never talk to her again, that she doesn’t exist, she’s dead. familiar type, but there’s a reason why it’s one of the few examples headed The band (which performs songs by Iraqi musician Khyam It’s one of our basic rights. But this was no ordinary production. Continue reading the main story. coming-of-age tale that has Tunisian characters but feels like the standard heavily funds movies that represent “young cinema.” The third reason is that Sonnet 130: My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun Analysis. My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun Coral is far more red than her lips’ red If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. Hayet (Ghalia Benali), her mom, is a kindly film. do the strong performances she gets out of newcomer Medhaffer as Farah and Godfrey Cheshire is a film critic, journalist and filmmaker based in New York City. Their relationship grows until Bohrène suddenly dumps Farah, leaving her devastated. means that these producers rarely have much creative input or control over the Only Farah doesn’t see that; all she sees is the overbearing and overprotective woman her mother has become. The latter event occasions the film’s two strongest scenes. Not surprisingly, Farah devotes more time to her band and makes you wish a strong producer had induced Bouzid to toss the coming-of-age The other scene, which comes A few months before the revolution in Tunisia, 18 year-old Farah has a passion for life and sings in a political rock band. Being part of that 2004 production of The Trojan Women was a life-changing experience for me. missing child has a pulse of Hitchcockian dread. Farah is a strong-willed, independent young woman...just like her mother, Hayet. Like, Farah, I’ve taken part in protest. Originally from Colorado, Jess now calls Wellington, New Zealand home. Until that point, I felt I could really relate to Farah; we both studied science in school but have a passion for performing arts, we both had a strained relationship with our mothers as teens, our dads weren’t around much, we get involved with the wrong type of boys, we’re both fiercely independent and not afraid to speak our minds. This reviewer was in Tunisia during the time the film Meet Jess, a content curator for Narrative Muse. As I Open My Eyes isn’t your average coming-of-age movie. One is that, by all appearances, a chunk Like mother, like daughter in As I Open My Eyes. In 2004, I made my main stage debut as an actor in my college’s production of Euripides’ The Trojan Women. That’s because it was made by a young Arab woman and reflects on her experiences in Tunisia during the lead-up to the Arab Spring—or Jasmine Revolution, is it was called there. Between the romance, the political performances and partying, Farah’s mother, Hayet (Ghalia Benali, Swing), disapproves of her daughter’s behavior; that is not how ladies should behave, especially in public. The passion is new and obviously exhilarating. By taking a stand and speaking out, we were able to send a clear message, and not everybody liked or agreed with it. I learned the power of art and the power of the human voice. have an edge of protest, but this is registered only as a very general sort of Overall, the film is a strong debut from a talented writer and director to watch. When the venues are shut down and the gigs canceled, Farah takes to singing the band’s politically charged songs acapella in the street. The second is that the Republic apparently agrees with this belief, and But throughout and in the end, it’s her mother who is there, holding her and loving her. To know that not everybody has the right of free speech makes me feel even more obligated to speak up and take a stand when I see injustice. Advertisement. There are three intertwined reasons why these films are so As I Open My Eyes: an expertly woven story exploring sexuality, mother-daughter relationships, a country at war with itself and a young girl caught up in the middle of it all. French type (Bouzid studied filmmaking in Paris and French literature at the latter third so much more compelling than the rest. But unlike Farah, I’ve done this in the United States. The big difference though is that my life has never been on the line due to me speaking out about my opinions. associated with her boyfriend Bohrène (Montassar Ayari). The mother’s frantic search through the station for her Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. Leyla Bouzid’s “As I Open My Eyes” is one of this very familiar type, but there’s a reason why it’s one of the few examples headed into America cinemas. films. In one, Farah’s mom takes her to a crowded bus station and manages to buy her She is loud and proud. Republic to make a movie, and what better subject than the obvious: one’s own Baya Medhaffar stars as fearless young protagonist Farah — a Tunisian girl who sings politically charged songs with her band, makes out with her boyfriend Bohrène (Montassar Ayari) in public, drinks in men’s bars, and locks her mother Hayet (Ghalia Benali) in her bedroom so she can sneak out at night. together with the propensity for autobiographical tales, is why so many of She is insatiably curious and is always trying something new, be it a crochet pattern, a new career or going on a solo adventure.