Love in the Medina
PRODS Zaineb Laraki, Caroline Locardi, Abdelhaï Laraki
SCR Abdelhaï Laraki, Violaine Bellet
CAM Roberta Allegrini
ED Marie Castro
PROD DES Mustapha Tabit
MUS Richard Horowitz
PROD CO A2L Prod. Films / Zen Zero Films
Thami (Moroccan heartthrob Omar Lotfi), the rebellious son of a Koranic lawyer, defies his father’s expectations and his community’s repressive traditional mores in this sensual, Casablanca-set drama. Freely adapted from the literary prizewinner Choice Cuts by Mohamed Nedali, this handsomely crafted tale of a butcher and his taboo passions was Morocco’s 2011 box-office champ.
Unfolding across two time frames, the film opens in 2010 with Thami’s father’s death representing the end of an old moral and social order. The story then flashes back 12 years to the repressive regime of King Hassan II to tell the story of how Thami came to be persona non grata in his family home and in the old quarter of the city. Working out of his own stall in the bazaar, lustful Thami takes advantage of his increased independence from his familial restrictions to seduce his female customers. In this way, he meets his great love, Zineb (Ouidad Elma), the young second wife of an elderly, impotent army corporal.
Director Abdelhaï Laraki brings to life the closed, colourful atmosphere of the medina, a small world where everyone knows everyone else’s business, and marriage rarely involves love. The sultry production design, full of gorgeous tile work and quivering flesh (female and food), mirrors the protagonist’s hedonism, while traditional North African instruments propel the resonant score.