Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The territory is familiar - but there's always something new to be seen, even on an old path.

Sabah (Arsinee Khangjian) is a 40-year-old Muslim spinster, who still lives at home in Toronto, looking after her mum since her father died and is the rock the rest of the family rely on in times of trouble. Her brother Majid (Jeff Seymour) is from the old school. Despite being married to a non-Arab Canadian his views are conservative. Sabah's place is in the home, his daughter Souhaire (Fadia Nadda) should have an arranged marriage and he should support them all.

This sounds downbeat, but it isn't. Despite Majid's controlling streak, this is a family dominated by women and they don't always play by the rules. Sabah plots with her niece Souhaire to try to help her find the right guy and at the same time begins to open up herself. She starts to swim at the local pool - despite this being contrary to her family's strict beliefs - using her trips to the pharmacy for mum as cover. A chance encounter with non-Arab, non-Muslim Stephen (Shawn Doyle) brings unexpected romance and sets her on a collision course with those at home.

Although Ruba Nadda is dealing with a serious subject, she has a lightness of touch which stops this film from slumping into depression. Sabah, beautifully acted by Khangjian, discovers a forgotten joie de vivre and the audience is carried along with her. Stephen is so sweet that you want to take him home yourself and even Majid has secrets that may explain his manner. Even though similar ground may have been trodden in East is East and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it feels fresh here.

Sabah is gently comedic, full of warmth and, perhaps most importantly, believable. This film has such a big heart you'll probably want to give someone a hug while you watch it.

Reviewed on: 29 Apr 2005
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A 40-year-old Muslim finds love across the cultural divide.
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Director: Ruba Nadda

Writer: Ruba Nadda

Starring: Arsinee Khanjian, Shawn Doyle, Fadia Nadda, Jeff Syemour, Kathryn Winslow, David Alpay, Roual Said, Setta Keshishian

Year: 2005

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Canada


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