'You Resemble Me' --- a breathtaking debut film by Dina Amer - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Friday, November 25, 2022

'You Resemble Me' --- a breathtaking debut film by Dina Amer


'You Resemble Me'  --- a breathtaking debut film by Dina Amer.

Let’s begin this review of “You Resemble Me”  by stating that the work of director Dina Amer marks the arrival of an important voice in world cinema. This is a beautifully simple film about two sisters, Hasna (Lorenza Grimaudo) and Mariam (Ilonna Grimaudo) — were born two years apart but raised like twins — at 9 and 7—without adult supervision. 

The streets of suburban Paris become their home while their mother, slumbers, alone. It’s clear from the first at of his gem of a film that they only have each other. Their mother sees all of her children as burdens, herself a bitter woman filled with regret and misplaced ambition. It’s clear that these little souls deserve better. 

After a big fight, at the youngest birthday party, they are pushed out of their mother's apartment in a tirade of insults one would not expect from a mother. This film marks Amer’s directorial debut and is based on actual events. It’s like being slipped into the folds of a vivid memory where the viewer becomes a part of a new, cinematic language.

This film takes its time and I am glad about it. You will be as well. The act of separation traumatizes Mariam, and Hasna’s spirit is so broken that she develops the worse of habits eventually splintering off her identities. She grows into a woman, in pain, smashed between an identity as a Moroccan immigrant, who merges into a Parisian party girl and part-time prostitute. To say that she is lost, adrift in an indifferent city is stating the obvious. Plus, she has an explosive temper which makes even the simplest situation complicated. 

There are three actresses engaged to play the fractured adult Hasna, including Amer herself, thereby cementing the dissociation. The order is this: First is played by Grimaudo and later by Amer, Sabrina Ouazani, and Mouna Soualem. We see a collage of "Hasna", not a typical heroine if a film but one that you find yourself caring about, deeply. 

“You Resemble Me” is, beautifully acted and directed. There is a tenderness in how the director approaches the feeling of not belonging. There were warning signs as big as billboards in the early lives of Hasna and Mariam. You find yourself wondering, could these tight-knitted sisters have been helped, or were they marked, at birth, to suffer the indignities thrust upon immigrants in Paris compounded by the simple fact they were female trying to keep their head above the roar of a male-dominated society.

Director Dina Amer who is a Muslim Egyptian woman living in the West has herself struggled to reconcile pieces of her identity. In “You Resemble Me” I feel the weight and the hope. 


Winner, Best Narrative Film. Aegean Film Festival (2022)

Winner, Special Mention. Annonay International Festival of First Films (2022)

Winner, Special Jury Mention. Atlanta Film Festival (2022)

Winner, Best Feature Film. Hot Springs International Women's Film Festival (2022)

Winner, Audience Award. International Film Festival Gorinchem (2022)

Winner, International Film, Nominated, Golden Crow Pheasant. Kerala International Film Festival (2022)

Winner, Jury Special Mention. Luxembourg City Film Festival (2022)

Winner,  Jordan Ressler First Feature Award. Miami Film Festival (2022)

2nd place, Best Director. Oakville Festivals of Film and Art (2022)

Winner, Best Picture - World Cinema. Phoenix Film Festival (2022)

Winner, Best Film in the Main Competition, Amnesty International Award. Prague International Film Festival (2022)

Winner, Best Screenplay of a Narrative Feature. RiverRun International Film Festival (2022)

Winner, Best Narrative Feature. San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (2022)

Winner, Best Middle Eastern/Israeli Film Award. Santa Barbara International Film Festival (2022)

Winner, Audience Award, Special Mention from the International Jur, CineClub Jury Prize, Young Jury Prize. REC Tarragona (2021)

Winner, Audience Award. Red Sea International Film Festival (2021)

Nominated, Best Film. São Paulo International Film Festival (2021)

Nominated, Giornate degli Autori Award. Venice Film Festival (2021)

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