However, Sabah is more unusual. She chose not to marry and definitely has an independent spirit, but is still less confident than both her sister and niece. It’s only once she falls in love with Stephen that she casts off her shyness and starts to enjoy everything life has to offer.
It may all sound rather sober, but there are wonderful touches of mirth that will have you giggling throughout. Many are courtesy of Sabah’s mother (played by Setta Keshishian), the witty and adored matriarch who brings the family together, and Sabah’s niece, the vibrant Souhaire. At one point she comes up with a hilarious way to rid herself of a marriage suitor, much to the chagrin of her uncle Majid.
And even though the focus of the film is Sabah’s love story, we are also shown the complexity of Majid (Jeff Seymour). He married for love, yet is strangely domineering and old-fashioned with the women in his family. As the only son, he also has to deal with unseen pressures and responsibilities.
It’s a great credit to this film that none of the characters are cardboard cutouts, although Stephen (Shawn Doyle) is probably the least developed, being a kindly man of simple tastes with “beautiful blue eyes”.
Even though it is a small film, Sabah has a vitality and genuine warmth that is hard to find in the jaded, crass ‘family/rom-com’ stuff Hollywood churns out these days. Arsinée Khanjian is exceptional as the lead, holding the film together with a nuanced performance that reminds us all how it feels to fall in love.
So skip that mindless action flick or over-the-top melodrama and rather see this beautiful, funny love story with family at its heart. Sabah will put a smile on your face and leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling for days afterwards.
- Amanda Whitehouse
Honest, amusing and heartwarming, Sabah is a film that will leave you with a smile on your face… and an urge to belly dance.
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