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  • Alex First

Adam (PG) - 101 minutes

Sensitive and affecting, Adam takes a close up look at two women caught in a maelstrom of emotional distress in one of Casablanca’s poorer neighbourhoods.

One is a stern and dour widowed mother who can’t get over the untimely death of her husband.

The other has arrived from another village and is facing the imminent birth of a child out of wedlock ... alone and on the streets, without a roof over her head.

Clearly intelligent and resourceful, this younger second woman – Samia (Nisrin Erradi) – goes door-to-door looking for work.

A hairdresser by trade, she is also adept at cooking and cleaning, but no-one will engage her.

Finally, she catches the eye of a pretty eight-year-old girl, Warda (Douae Belkhaouda), who is eager to welcome her, only her mother – the first woman I spoke of, named Abla (Lubna Azabal) – feels entirely differently.

Samia seeks refuge on a bench immediately opposite their home and eventually guilt gets the better of Abla and she lets Samia stay for the night.

At that stage we don’t know either woman’s back stories.

These are gradually unveiled during the course of the picture, although the fine details of Samia’s “mistake” are never revealed.

One night becomes two and so on and although the two women’s path to trust is far from straightforward, they bond, while Abla’s daughter has taken an immediate shine to Samia.

The latter also proves her worth in the kitchen, from where Abla makes a living selling bread and pastries.

Abla is also being wooed by the local produce delivery man, but she tries to ignore his advances.

Samia’s biggest moment – and the biggest moment in the film – is still to come and, not surprisingly, that is what we have been building up to.

She has decided to give her unborn child up for adoption as soon as it is born because as a bastard child she can’t offer him or her a decent future. 

While you could reasonably argue that the trajectory of Adam is obvious, that is not to take anything away from the performances of the leads, who invest their all into their respective roles.

They imbue their characters with a single-mindedness and dignity throughout as the pendulum that is the story arc shifts.

Each is excellent.

Belkhaoudais a little charmer and provides some lighter relief as the dutiful but cheeky daughter.

Aziz Hattabis somewhat too eager as Abla’s suitor, Slimani, hardly a fully fleshed out character.

It is as much the expressions and gestures – a look here, a touch there – in this movie as the sparse dialogue that define it.

So, too, the exquisite cinematography, including especially impressive close ups, by Virginie Surdej. These are things of real beauty – so expressive.

Now, if you are wanting a neat, Hollywood ending ... well, you will just have to see Adam to find out whether or not that is forthcoming.

Suffice to say, I found the conclusion most satisfactory.

While the film unashamedly pulls at the heartstrings, for the most part it does so with a deft touch.

It is an impressive directorial debut from Maryam Tourzani, who also wrote the screenplay.

Rated PG, it scores a 7 out of 10.

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