film fatales #204: the blue caftan (maryam touzani, 2022)

Quietly smoldering triangle that takes some different approaches, although the end result isn't too far off from the norm. The main difference is that the triangle consists of a husband and wife and a young man who attracts the closeted husband. The catch is that the wife is dying of cancer. The wife is played by the wonderful Lubna Azabal, who starred in Denis Villeneuve's best film, Incendies.

Director/co-writer Maryam Touzani and cinematographer Virginie Surdej create an intimate environment that invites us into the budding threesome. There is the expected awkwardness ... the husband suppressing his feelings, the wife dying but wanting her husband to feel free when she is gone, the young man who gradually enters the lives of the others (he is an apprentice at the couple's caftan store). Nothing feels false, and we want the best possible outcome for all of the characters ... to the extent it is possible, Touzani rewards our desires.

The film feels long at 122 minutes. It's not that there is anything obvious that could be cut, but the low-key tension walks a fine line between intensity and torpor. But that's a minor complaint for a film that takes just enough liberties with romantic triangle tropes to make The Blue Caftan feel unique.