Zaynab is a Pakistani-American immigration lawyer who is: a) learning wrestling moves from a former pro wrestler who went by the name Jolt; and b) keeping a new relationship with Alma secret from her conservative Muslim mother who doesn’t know she’s gay.
“Mothers and daughters aren’t friends in our culture,” Zaynab tells Alma. “That’s a very American concept.” Zaynab’s father is dead and her mother lives with her, almost claustrophobically, obsessed with TV and spying on the neighbours, but unwilling to leave the house. She’s particularly keen on spotting eligible men with her not-inconspicuous binoculars.
Zaynab, meanwhile, is just trying to find herself, in “life, love, and lady wrestling,” as the subtitle suggests. Signature Move, directed by Jennifer Reeder, is a mixture of culture and possibility. As Zaynab (Fawzia Mirza) wishes she could live her life confidently “out,” while juggling the reality of her mother’s disapproval and the pain the secrecy causes her new girlfriend.
I particularly love seeing the generational difference between Zaynab and her mother (Shabana Azmi). The mother will speak in her native tongue, and the daughter will respond in English as if this is the most natural thing in the world. Alma (Sari Sanchez), meanwhile, is perhaps her opposite, but she draws Zaynab out of the darkness; while also having her own notions of identity and sexuality challenged. It’s an interesting little slice of life indie film that brings to the screen a refreshing twist on the tired romcom format.
Saturday, May 27, 7:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tickets can be purchased at the Inside Out website.