Letter by Mr Hamid Dabashi, Iranian Critic and Professor Cinema Critic at the Columbia University - New York
PASSION is one of the exquisite and powerful films I have seen in my recent memory.
I admire the poise, patience, and elegance with which you have told Imene's story.
Your camera is so confident. Your cutting, editing, sequences, camera locations, sound design, and above all the color of your film, its melancholic boding of a tragedy about to happen are all extraordinary.
I also believe in Imene's husband, his infatuation with the news of the US invasion of Iraq, in Rachid's absented character, and in the sense of futility you detect in the street demonstrations you have successfully added a critical, though perfectly nuanced,
factor to the terror of Imene's life. Such perfect balance between the politics of our despair and the terror of our inherited stupidities I have rarely seen.
The character of Joumana is astounding (and she is wonderful and amazing actor). In her, and in Imene's little daughter--in the very last sequence, before Imene is murdered--you have given the world a gift of grace, a sign of hope, a promise of emancipation.
What has remained with me most is how you have elevated a few lines of a small town crime into an astounding work of art, with malice towards none, not even the Abu Sobhi character, not Imene's father, brother, cousins--none. There seems to be an inevitability in the fate of all these people, caught as they are in a web of their own fears and anxieties, the hope they have lost, the dignity they have forgotten--and how wise, judicious, and careful you are in introducing just a smidgeon of politics to point to the deeper roots of despair, without forfeiting the weight of the more enduring social malaise you detect and canvas.
Your work in the interiors of houses, Mohammad, are just Unbelievable.
You have a visual sense of the space, of the interior architecture of Syrian houses, of streets and alleys, windows and doors, shrubs and trees, that speak eloquently of your extraordinary command over your camera.
Your perfect sense of the interior is very much reminiscent of Ozu.
One hour and 38 minutes with your film, and I feel I grew up Aleppo!
(A yet unpublished letter by Mr Hamid Dabashi, Iranian Critic and Professor Cinema Critic at the Columbia University- New York . U.S.)