Film Review

‘Joyland Review: Saim Sadiqs Love Story First Feature Film From Pakistan To Play At Cannes

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‘Joyland Review: Saim Sadiqs Love Story First Feature Film From Pakistan To Play At Cannes

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‘Joyland Review: Saim Sadiqs Love Story First Feature Film From Pakistan To Play At Cannes
‘Joyland Review: Saim Sadiqs Love Story First Feature Film From Pakistan To Play At Cannes

© Khusat Films

Editor's note: This review was originally published following its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 23. The film opens Friday in New York and April 21 in Los Angeles.

A married man falls in love with a trans woman in Joyland, the first Pakistani feature film to be screened at Cannes. Saeem Sadiq's atmospheric drama Uncertain explores an entire family, a portrait of a tribe torn between modernity and tradition in contemporary Lahore.

Haider (Ali Junejo) has a seemingly happy marriage with Mumtaz (Rusty Farooq). But when he gets a job as a backup dancer for the attractive trans actress Biba (Alina Khan), his eyes are opened to a different way of life and perhaps a different kind of love. Meanwhile, his wife is disillusioned with the patriarchal society in which she lives and lacks the desire to bring another child into the family (to everyone's chagrin, her mother-in-law has a daughter).

Joyland, as the name suggests, is an amusement park that serves as a haven for many gang members, whether they're dancing with the gang or screaming in agony on the rides.

Hyder plays an interesting role: a man burdened by his father's traditional expectations, which he does not want to admit. His wife is a poor person: a reasonable woman who deserves more than her share. But the most unique character is a pre-operative transgender woman who dances from scratch, sometimes in front of a large and relatively large audience, sometimes for a small group and sexually aggressive men.

The relationship between Hyder and Biba is interesting: we never know how far they will go and what drives Hyder. There was speculation that she might be attracted to men, which angered Biba, who claimed to be a woman. But there is a palpable sympathy between these two lost souls living lives they never entered. Biba's bold move to change her gender indirectly encouraged Hyderi to stay true to her gender. But these can be expensive.

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Joyland has a strong sense of place created by character rather than geographic origin. In the rituals of daily life, family celebrations or dance group practice, attention is paid to the details. Highly emotional, the film takes an unexpected hit at the end, shifting the focus to an interesting subject and avoiding other main characters.

Although parts of the story are dependent, it can be assumed that it reflects the point of view of the main character. But Joyland remains a thoughtful, well-acted and culturally grounded drama, and it's not always heartwarming.

Title: Joyland Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratory Release date: April 7, 2023 (NY) / April 21 (LA) (Cannes premiere May 23, 2022) Written and directed by: Saim Sadiq Starring : Ali Junjo Rusty Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Sohail Sameer , Salman Pirzada, Sania Saeed Duration: 2 hours 7 minutes

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Joyland is banned in Pakistan: here's why

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