Aida

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Aida
"The widescreen of Hanane Abi Khalil's camera manages an intimacy, one born of proximity."

"Who wants to see Aida get married?" we're asked, "the story [we're told] is one for all to hear". This is Lebanon, a portrait of Aida, registration number 88, 30 years old and "never getting any older".

An affectionate and good-humoured document of an individual in a country that has had its share of trauma, this is a happier story. There are 3 Logical Exits, The Monastery: Mr Vig & The Nun, even What We Left Unfinished to reference here, this sense of the grand through the lens of the small. Not synecdoche, not that condensation of the fractal. All human nature does that. It is something in the eye of the beholder. "Who is the groom?" they wonder, but that does not matter. Aida is the bride.

She doesn't like sadness, she likes to be happy. Not alone in that, smiles abound. From the auguries and horoscopes on the television to a flock of goats more auspicious for her day than they were for James Bond in No Time To Die, this has as many moving parts. The jaunty piano over the parade of pop and soda, the ground swept, the crowd assembled, everywhere the cedar symbol of the state.

The widescreen of Hanane Abi Khalil's camera manages an intimacy, one born of proximity. Close-ups of faces and the smiles of crowds, a fondness not just of memories but habit. At once rooted in tradition and willing to undo it, even to the credits that are also an album of moving photographs, this is a treat. Eli N Hardin's music adds depth without overwhelming, often rooted in an almost theatrical piano, and Jimmy Khalife's efforts in translation are appreciated.

To get a sense of someone across a barrier like film is down to the efforts of a group, but Aida is a force in and of herself. To do justice to her is no small feat but Khalil has managed, and well. "nothing really matters and nothing lasts forever" may seem a nihilistic way to approach a wedding, but it works. A ring is just the boundary of an empty space, after all, but this film's nature and craft mean it is also a fitting frame for a gem of a lady.

Reviewed on: 07 Oct 2021
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A woman decides to get married. What is her story?

Director: Hanane Abi Khalil

Year: 2021

Runtime: 18 minutes

Country: Lebanon

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