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Hm. Saw Monsieur Ibrahim und die Blumen des Koran (Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran) with my sister...


I don't really know what all the fuss is about. It's not bad, there were a few good moments, but on the whole it was too vague for my taste (but then that's my problem with French movies generally), too full of platitudes, wildly oscillating between realism and symbolism, with a few rather too abrupt plot-contrivances, and too many subjects touched upon once and never picked up again.

And I can't shake off the uneasy feeling that it is vaguely (or maybe not-so-vaguely) anti-semitic in the way the subject of religion is treated: That Momo, a teenage boy, would associate his father's shortcomings with his religion is one thing, that the movie never really suggests otherwise, is another. Instead we get a metaphor about how you should change your shoes if they hurt, because you can't change your feet (did I mention platitudes?), which is all very well, but then Momo's father is removed from the story rather suddenly, leaving his son after having lost his job, and out of shame from having failed as a father, and soon after committing suicide; the mother, who'd left the family for reasons we never learn, turns up, but after Momo denies his identity, calling himself Mohammed instead of Moses, departs again, conveniently leaving Momo free to adopt Monsieur Ibrahim as an ersatz father. He bit by bit sells the books his father had so loved, but he himself found oppressive, which again for a boy in his situation is maybe the logical thing to do, but also a symbolic rejection of his religion, given the importance of books in Judaism.

So on the one side we have Momo's loveless Jewish family (it would help if we were given at least a reason why the mother had left, why the father chose to apparently invent a perfect older brother for Momo, etc.), the (Jewish) girl whom he falls in love with, but who ditches him for another boy, Jewish prejudice against 'the Arab' ...; on the other side, there's Monsieur Ibrahim, the tolerant, wise (etc. & so on & so forth) Turkish shop owner, who gives Momo the warmth, spiritual education, but also material wealth his real father couldn't provide. I can't help feeling that this is rather too clicheed and one-sided: at the very least I'd have expected a reconciliatory conclusion, that at the end of their journey Momo would have learned that a less than perfect father needn't taint a whole religion, or some such thing. Not happening, though.


solitary summer

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