What happens when a filmmaker struggles to make intangible things tangible? Well in the case of Namour, the debut feature from Heidi Saman, you can have a disjointed film. However, it can also snap you right into focus when things are going right, making you long as an audience member for those strong moments and cling to them like a lifeline. Reveling in wonderful familial tension but lacking in overall tension, Namour is an admirable exploration of a man stuck in a rut.
Steven (Karim Saleh) is a valet who is tired of his dead end job but seems to lack the wherewithal to move on from it. His monotonous life starts to be upended a bit as his family life begins to shift, starting with his parents’ decision to sell the house they raised their kids in. He begins to unravel bit by bit and struggles to figure out just where he wants to go in life.
Namour the title is a reference to Steven’s grandmother, so it should come as no surprise then that this movie, despite its flaws, clicks into place when Steven gets into close confines with his family. It’s as if all the pretense about showing him being allienated drop away and we see how he actually came to be that way. Saman really steps up her game in these scenes as a director. Among my favorite moments is a simple smoking scene with his estranged father at his sister’s graduation party. The conversation shifts from simple updates about his sister and their mom selling the house to his father trying to give him a gift for his sister rather than do it himself. It’s so awkward, as this conversation would be, yet it’s fraught with interesting character dynamics and conveys the history and futures of these men so perfectly. These moments in Namour increase as the film goes on and makes the film really interesting.
As I mentioned in the synopsis of the plot, Steven is alienated from his surroundings and starts to act out, but he never quite seems to go anywhere or do much of anything, other than a particularly shady act towards a friend that feels a bit out of place for this film. Namour is a movie that needs the main character’s plight to land with an audience and I didn’t necessarily buy his alienation nor his downward spiral. It’s a shame because with a stronger understanding of the character and a better attachment to his troubles, I think the film could have been stronger.