When attractive 40 year old Toronto based Muslim spinster Sabah (Arsinee Khanjian) meets Stephen (Shawn Doyle) at the local swimming pool, they hit it off and begin seeing each other - but because he's a Christian, she keeps it a secret from her mother Um Mouhammed (Setta Keshishian) and her the rest of her family. After 20 years looking after her mother, Sabah feels this is a chance for her to have a life. Her brother Majid (Jeff Seymour), who has been the head of the household since the death of their father, throws her out of the family.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The themes that Canadian-Arab filmmaker Ruba Nadda explores in Sabah couldn't come at a better time, as we contemplate the culture clash that is unfolding in Western societies with Muslim migrants in their midst. Cross cultural romances are hardly new to cinema, but there is a relevance and a poignancy to Sabah's story. Here is the traditional Muslim family, whose culture demands a certain isolation from its Judeo-Christian surroundings, pushed and shoved into confronting those demarcation lines through the defiance of not only Sabah, the older sister, but of her younger sibling Souhaire (Fadia Nadda), who resists her brother's arrangements for her marriage.
The interesting aspect of this story is that it is the women - including in the end the mother - who make the move to break with tradition. But in the course of the story, we get an insight into the nature of the conflicts that must rip through so many migrant Muslim families. It makes you wonder why so many Muslims with such strong attachment to their culture would voluntarily move into a foreign, and to them alien, culture in the West.
Nadda's film evolves as it goes, from a tense, family drama to a culture clash love story to a resolution that - perhaps too easily and unrealistically - offers hope and light. But we can excuse this happy ending since the film (after a stilted start) is carried by excellent performances from the entire cast, and a terrific soundtrack.
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CAST: Arsinee Khanjian, Shawn Doyle, Setta Keshishian, Fadia Nadda, Jeff Seymour, Kathryn Winslow, David Alpay
PRODUCER: Tracey Boulton
DIRECTOR: Ruba Nadda
SCRIPT: Ruba Nadda
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Luc Montpellier
EDITOR: Teresa Hannigan
MUSIC: Geoff Bennett, Longo Hai, Ben Johannesen
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jonathan Dueck
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Potential
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: December 7, 2006