Monsieur Ibrahim

The setting was in the 60’s Paris, a working class neighborhood in Paris. The story is the friendship between two unlikely characters (especially unlikely in today’s atmosphere), a teenager Jewish boy and an elderly muslin immigrant from Turkey.

The film was calm but not boring. Often when I just start to wonder where it is going, a spark will appear, it will be either funny or moving, and I am reengaged. Unlike any Hollywood movies, it doesn’t treat audience like an idiot and try to explain every little thing. That is very gratifying. One has to pay attention to every detail in order to appreciate the beauty of the film. The story flows like a creek in the forest, light and innocent.

A few moments that stood out for me. First has to be the mental imagery of Momo during his sexual initiation. As a woman, I often wondered what it was like for a man during sex. This little scene was completely unexpected and I was thoroughly amused. The other is when Momo asked Ibrahim to adopt him in a offhand-ish way and Ibrahim immediately accepted. Momo, unable to conceal his happiness, danced in the dark and narrow aisle in the grocer. His eyes sparkled. Then there is that scene when they were sailing from Greece to Turkey, as Istanbul’s skyline appeared in the golden misty setting sun, my heart leaped up and flew to that magical city.

A few pearls of wisdom Ibrahim lavished on Momo:

“You have only one pair of feet – take care of them,”
“When you want to learn, you don’t pick up a book, you talk to somebody,”
“A man’s heart is like a caged bird – when you dance, your heart sings.”
“It is your love, there is nothing she can do to it. You invited her to participate, and she declined. Then she loses on it.”
“Whatever you give, it is yours forever. Whatever you keep, will be lost to you.”

Reference materials that are worth reading:
1. A little blurb written by Omar Sharif on the movie

2. Interview with the director Francois Dupeyron and actor Omar Sharif

Quote from Dupeyron during the interview:

“Momo is one of those children whose parents were unable to transmit to him anything but a bunch of sad and rigid rules. Ibrahim is not imposing anything because he has nothing to impose. His religion is, in the end, only a mystery, two dry flowers left in his Koran. Belief divides, but not the religious feeling. This feeling is born out of real humility, out of tolerance, out of humor, out of intelligence… but not the one you find in books. It can be born very simply from looking at a cloud, or walking in a forest, or meeting the eyes of a child. It is the essence of all that makes us human beings.”