release date April 24 2024
THE RED SEA MAKES ME WANNA CRY: A Poetic Journey of Loss and Longing
Director Faris Alrjoob’s THE RED SEA MAKES ME WANNA CRY, which was released on film streaming giant MUBI on April 20th, making it the first Jordanian short film in MUBI’s library, and one of the two first-ever Jordanian films to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged short film that delves into the depths of grief, loss, and the search for solace, where the director masterfully combines elements of romance, psychological exploration, and historical context to create a captivating cinematic experience.
In the film, the protagonist, Ida, portrayed by Clara Schwinning, who received Locarno’s Best Performance award for her film A GOOD PLACE, embarks on a haunting journey to a coastal town in Southern Jordan where her partner disappeared in a final attempt to trace his last steps and seek closure for a longing within her that wouldn’t let go.
Reflecting the inner turmoil and emptiness that Ida experiences in the aftermath of her loss, the choice of the town, presented in the film’s prologue as the city of ghosts, adds a layer of symbolism that effectively conveys Ida's profound loneliness and suffering.
The film also subtly highlights the transformation of the town, once planned as an industrial hub, into a purgatory for souls in transit. This juxtaposition of the town's history with Ida's journey reflects the broader impact of conflict on both physical and emotional levels.
The film's poignant and relatable exploration of the psychological effects of grief and heartbreak is evident through Ida's suppressed emotions and her arduous journey to find peace amidst her loss, which strikes a deep chord with viewers who are offered an intimate first-hand experience of the intricate layers and complexities of excess love that has nowhere to go.
One of the film’s notable strengths is its remarkable ability to stir profound emotions through its carefully crafted aesthetics. Shot by Tunisian German cinematographer Mahmoud Belakhel on 16mm, the film's visual composition takes cues from the captivating cinematic language of the mythical American West. This deliberate approach successfully evokes a strong sense of nostalgia, transporting viewers to a world filled with longing and sentimentality.
Demonstrating a keen eye for detail and a mastery of cinematic language, Alrjoob’s experimental approach to form and texture adds a unique artistic dimension to the storytelling, which, coupled with the evocative score by Omar Fadel, creates a symphony of emotions that resonates long after the film concludes.
In general, THE RED SEA MAKES ME WANNA CRY is a testament to the power of cinema to explore the depths of human experience. It captures the essence of longing, loss, and the complexities of grief in a way that transcends language and cultural boundaries.
Written, directed, and co-produced by Faris Alrjoob and co-written by Matthew LaPaglia, the film is co-produced by Luisa Stricker and Luma Al Hamarneh and stars burgeoning young Jordanian actor Mohamed Nizar, Clara Schwinning, Emmy-nominated journalist-actor Ahmed Shihab Eldin, and Anwar Khalil. The short film was also lensed by Mahmoud Belakhel and edited by Benedikt Strick, with worldwide sales and distribution by MAD Solutions.