Friday, October 09, 2020

FAREWELL AMOR - BFI London Film Festival 2020 - Day 3

FAREWELL AMOR is a quiet but brutal emotional drama about an immigrant family reunited after decades of separation. It resonated powerfully with me because it mirrors the story of my own grandparents and asked questions I have longed to ask.  As the film opens we meet Walter, an Angolan refugee who has established a life for himself in Brooklyn over the last 17 years, including a relationship with a woman.  He has to end that relationship when his wife Esther, and now fully grown daughter Sylvia, finally get their immigration status approved and arrive in New York to live with him.  What follows is a painful observation of an estranged couple.  Walter is utterly alienated from a newly religious Esther who seems to want to cling more to her old life and its values than embrace the new.  Sylvia is struggling with the weight of her mother's expectations and resentment that her father left her behind.  Dance is used as a motif.  Walter remembers when his wife was young and carefree and danced.  In one of the most finely observed exchanges in the movie he tells his daughter that as a black man he spends his life holding himself in and presenting himself in a way that won't scare white people. He encourages Sylvia to dance freely and true to her own style because dance is one of the very places that one can be oneself. I'm not sure if I bought into the final act of the film - and its resolution - but I very much enjoyed the journey and getting to know these three characters.

FAREWELL AMOR has a running time of 95 minutes. The film played Sundance and London 2020. It does not yet have a commercial release date.

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