Immigrant stories have been told numerous times on screens big and small, even just this year with Little America (AppleTV+) and His House (Netflix), but Farewell Amor is a worthy entry into this pantheon.
Written and directed by Ekwa Msangi, she tells not the story of the struggle to get to the States, or the struggle to acclimatise within a county, but instead the struggle to reform a family that has been split apart for 17 years. It’s a side of the story we don’t often see, how long families are apart, how difficult it is for the children involved. Following the 3 characters of Walter, Esther and Sylvia separately, we’re able to see the story from 3 very different angles as they attempt to rebuild a life they put on hold 17 years ago.
Farewell Amor is a story of words unspoken; glances averted. It’s quiet, delicate, subtle and meditative, everything a personal drama should be. The three chapters feel distinctly different and when we revisit earlier scenes from a different character view, we’re able to reassess the ever-evolving situation. Msangi holds the camera close to her, cradling each character with care and never judgement. It’s her first feature-length film but she flows between scenes back and forth like a seasoned pro. Her writing is equally as sharp. The use of colour, the importance of key props, the importance of each word and how they hang in the air between the 3 figures, it’s a masterclass in film making.
The story is filled with drama, tension and awkwardness, but through the use of music and dance, it tells a vivid story of hope, of change, of returning to our past selves. Rather than a melancholy look at the loss this family has gone through whilst trying to be reunited, it’s a mediation on who Walter and Esther used to be, how this time has changed them. It’s also a look forward at who Sylvia could be, who she wants to be, but also what parts of her old life she wants to hold on to.
I was completely charmed by Farewell Amor, it felt fluid and embracing, soft but exciting and entirely absorbing. Visually stunning, emotionally moving, it’s a high recommend from me, and it’s currently streaming on MUBI UK.
See all photos >>