Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
THE WORLD UNSEEN Movie Review
Directed by: Shamim Sarif
Running time: 95 minutes
Release date: November 7, 2008
Genre: Drama, Romance, Political, Period Piece and Adaptation
Distributor: Regent Releasing and Here Films
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director, writer and actress Shamim Sarif brings her sensitive yet powerful novel of the same title to the screen. It depicts love, traditions, culture, bigotry and denial in 1950's South Africa.
This film with exceptionally fine crafted cinematography, focuses on two oppressed women living in Cape Town. The first woman is Amina, a woman of mixed blood (she is part Indian and part Black African) portrayed by Sheetal Sheth. She is a considered a free spirited person during these early years of apartheid. She is the owner of a cafe, an Indian man named Jacob (David Dennis) assists her. Amina wears trousers and speaks her mind when it comes to injustice.
The second woman is Miriam, an Indian with three children. Her marriage was planned by her family and she accepted her fate in life as a subservient mate to her physically abusive husband Omar (Parvin Dabas). Omar is a store owner and he provides for his family; however, he rules his family firmly, much like all men of his culture and race. With the backdrop of a government that racially profiles people of color, Amina and Miriam meet and form a friendship that blooms into something more.
The background scenes are spacious and breathtaking. However, what was even more beautiful were the two leading ladies. Sheetal Sheth is an American actress of Indian origin, best known for starring opposite Albert Brooks in Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (2006). Lisa Ray is an Indo-Canadian actress who began her career with the Bollywood film Kasoor (2001). Ray is best known for her female lead in Bollywood/Hollywood (2002)
The chemistry of these ladies is perfect on screen and their performances compliment each other. When they kiss, a certain shyness is projected as neither of them is in the habit of kissing another woman. However, the actresses both brilliantly capture the feeling of an unsurprised rush of emotion. The result is a unique and tasteful scene of easing into a lesbian love affair. The whole scenario blends gracefully into the many suspenseful changes of events in the film.
This cinematic marvel transports the audience into historical South Africa, while simultaneously taking them into a world that segregates white from black. I was caught up in the division of women and men, and how each lived in this environment of political unrest.
This is one the most sincere films I've seen in quite some time.
FILM RATING (B+)