Philippe Faucon's Fatima is a nuanced examination of the immigrant experience told through the eyes of Fatima, a resilient immigrant mother of two, who works as a house cleaner in Lyon. Managing to be both a deeply personal study of maternity and sacrifice, as well as a pointed, grand examination of the challenges and obstacles facing migrants as they attempt to assimilate into French culture, Philippe Faucon's Fatima is a timely film, told with craft and care. Fatima is supporting two daughters in Souad, a 15-year-old in the middle of teenage rebellion, and Nesrine, a 18-year-old who has just started medical school. Phillippe Faucon's Fatima is a film that works so well due to its strong characterizations, with Fatima and her two daughters all being characters who are dealing with their own sense of adjustment to French culture. Souad, who is simply in that time of teenage angst and rebellion, has growing animosity towards her mother, resenting her mother's remedial job as a maid for how it reflects on her. Souad perceives her mother as being exploited by French Society for doing such remedial work, unable to understand that her mother does it solely for her daughter's financial and personal benefit, as Fatima wishes for nothing more than her daughter to succeed in France. Nesrine on the otherhand, is on the path to success but faces harassment from the Arab community for her decision to go to medical school, a community which routinely attempts to guilt the 18-year-old for leaving her mother's home to pursue her degree. These various issues facing both Souad and Nesrine reflect back onto Fatima, with the root of all these character's struggles being representative of the persistent culture clash which exists with any type of immigrant community. Make no mistake, Fatima is the star here, a character who goes to rather extreme lengths to support her daughters, each of which has had a much easier time assimilating into the French way of life. This sense of solitude follows Fatima throughout the whole film, as the filmmakers present a character in Fatima who is stuck in a world she doesn't quite understand, sacrificing and working hard regardless for the sake of her daughter's futures in France. Carefully directed, using static photography and well-crafted compositions to tell Fatima's story, Philippe Faucon has created a graceful film which beautifully captures the many disadvantages facing this character who struggles to assimilate into a new culture, something which her daughters have managed. Fatima is a film that is never overly sentimental or overly dramatized, not seeking sympathy for Fatima per se but presenting an honest portrait of the immigrant experience that is honest and heartfelt. At its core, Philippe Faucon's Fatima is a story of maternal sacrifice and persistence, delivering an artistically told story of one such Arab family living in France, a story of the challenges and experiences which I would imagine aren't singular, many of which are shared from other members of the migrant community.
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