“What is identity?” a teacher asks her students early in the film Jinn. It is a question that director Nijla Mu’min wants the audience to ponder as well while observing her debut feature about a mother and daughter each coming to terms with change.
When her mother Jade (Simone Missick) decides to convert to Islam, seventeen-year-old Summer (Zoe Renee) tries her best to be supportive. Encouraged by her dad (Dorian Missick), who now lives with his new wife, to learn more about her mom’s interest, Summer also converts to the religion to experience the same sense of freedom and euphoria that her mother is experiencing. However, both Jade and Summer slowly realizes that embracing a new facet to their identity comes with its own share of problems.
Jade, a successful television meteorologist, must deal with the impact that being Muslim might have on her job. While Summer must figure out how to exist in multiple worlds. Like most teens her age she struggles to navigate her social media crafted image, her hormones, and not fitting into any one box. The latter is especially true when the rules of her newfound faith conflicts with her budding romance with fellow Muslim Tahir (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).
Demonstrating that identity is multifaceted and not as singular as society or religion paints it to be, Jinn is a wonderfully layered coming-of-age tale. Mu’min raises several interesting questions about the various mediums in which our constantly evolving identities exist.
Touching on the wave of Islamophobia that is spreading across society, Jinn is a beautiful reminder of the positive aspects of religion. In showing the humanity of the characters, and the universal nature of their struggles, Mu’min’s film is engaging and relatable. As both Summer and Jade come to terms with their own sense of empowerment, one cannot help but root for them every step of the way. Embracing the messiness and uncertainty that comes with growth and change, Jinn is an impressive debut from a confident new voice.
Saturday, February 16, 6:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox