1982

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

1982
"Mouaness has a better handle on the ins and out of school life and love than he does the bigger picture."

The microcosm of puppy love plays out against the backdrop of encroaching war in this engaging if, ultimately, dramatically light debut from Oualid Mouaness. The action takes place on the last day of term and as Israel's invasion of Lebanon begins, but the battle facing schoolboy Wissam (Mohamad Dalli) is mostly with himself, over whether he should reveal his feelings to classmate Joana (Gia Madi), whom he admires from afar, beyond leaving a note in her locker.

His best mate (Ghassan Maalouf) is egging him on, but her's is a tattle-tale who would enjoy nothing more than to report this sort of behaviour to the teachers at the posh school they attend. Meanwhile, teachers Yasmine (Capernaum director Nadine Labaki) and Joseph (Rodrigue Sleiman) have their own romantic frictions going on. As the school day wears the distant fighting begins to creep closer to the classroom.

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Mouaness has a better handle on the ins and out of school life and love than he does the bigger picture. Helped by strong performances from his young cast, he captures the nervousness of Wissam as he tries to pluck up the courage to reveal all to Joana and shows a good ear for the back and forth of schoolyard banter.  When it comes to the fighting, however, the tension never really mounts enough - because the kids are largely oblivious, caught up in their own drama, it's left to Labaki and Sleiman to try to ratchett up the drama, and it's a very big ask.

The director also tries to incorporate some of Wissam's imagination into the action in a similar way to that used by Taika Waititi in Boy - with the sky, for example, replaced at one point by one of Wissam's drawings. Mouaness doesn't use the device enough, however, so when he comes to lean on magic realism heavily in the film's final scenes it feels forced. He's also shy about tackling any of the background politics of the situation, setting up some friction near the start between Yasmine and her would-be militia fighter brother (Said Serhan), but largely jettisoning it for the rest of the film. The kids ensure this is never anything other than watchable, with Mouaness deserving credit for generating such natural performances and creating a strong sense of place, but though we get a sense of innocence lost it doesn't carry the weight it might.

Reviewed on: 23 Mar 2020
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1982 packshot
A boy tries to pluck up the courage to tell a girl how he feels about her against the backdrop of encroaching war.

Director: Oualid Mouaness

Writer: Oualid Mouaness

Starring: Nadine Labaki, Mohamad Dalli, Ghassan Maalouf, Aliya Khalidi, Rodrigue Sleiman, Gia Madi, Lelya Harkous, Said Serhan, Zeina Saab de Melero, Joseph Azoury, Nadine Labaki, Mohamad Dalli, Ghassan Maalouf, Aliya Khalidi, Rodrigue Sleiman

Year: 2019

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: Lebanon, Norway, France, Qatar

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