Review: Look at Me
by Carlota Moseguí
- TORONTO 2018: Tunisian filmmaker Nejib Belkadhi directs a family drama about the process of rebuilding a relationship between a father and his autistic son
After presenting his first fiction film, Bastardo, at Toronto in 2013, the Tunisian director Nejib Belkadhi is back at the 43rd edition of the Canadian event in the Contemporary World Cinema section, with Look at Me [+see also:
film profile], a family drama about a man who is forced to reconcile his sense of lost fatherhood.
The hero of Look at Me is a Tunisian immigrant who has built a new life for himself in Marseille. Everything goes his way in France: Lotfi (Nidhal Saadi) opens a home appliance store there and is expecting his first child with his French wife, Monique. A tragic accident, however, will force him to return to his native country to face his past and his demons.
Lofti is harbouring a big secret: he has two lives, one in Marseille and the one he has chosen not to pursue in Tunis, where the family he abandoned still lives. He doesn’t return home by choice, but because he has to decide the future of his autistic son, his mother having died. Lofti hesitates between becoming his eldest son’s guardian and placing him in a care home, far away, and continuing his life in Marseille. Look at Me follows the hero's psychological evolution from the moment he sets foot in his native country, and his journey towards becoming accustomed with his surroundings and overcoming his fear of getting close to his son Youssef.
The film is also a plea for the rights of individuals, especially children, who are on the autistic spectrum. The screenplay, written by Belkadhi, is a kind of instruction manual for establishing a means of communication with children by stimulating their attention (playing with coloured lights, making body contact in order to help them perform daily tasks...).
The result is a moving family drama about feelings of guilt, forgiveness, ethics and second chances. Nejib Belkadhi adopts a sincere filmmaker's view of autism, without falling into the trap of victimising people with autism.
Look at Me was produced by Mille et Une Productions (France) and Propaganda Productions (Tunisia) with the help of Doha Film Institute. The film's international sales are being handled by MPM Premium.
(Translated from Spanish)
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