Review of "Lingui, the sacred bonds": Love, fierce and without limits

Freedom doesn’t come easily in ‘Lingui, the Sacred Bonds’, a story of electric liberation about a mother and her daughter. It is fought ...


Freedom doesn’t come easily in ‘Lingui, the Sacred Bonds’, a story of electric liberation about a mother and her daughter. It is fought — and seized — by women who, in saving each other, save each other. For the girl, autonomy means getting an abortion in a country that prohibits it. For the mother, a practicing Muslim, self-sovereignty is a revolutionary act, which requires a change of mentality and being. It means saying no, dancing, smoking on the sly and fighting when necessary. It means finding new ways to be a woman in this man’s world.

The story takes place in present-day N’Djamena, Chad, where Amina (Achouackh Abakar Souleymane) spends much of her time getting by. Along with her 15-year-old daughter, Maria (Rihane Khalil Alio), Amina lives in a humble house with a rickety door, thick walls, and a sweet, playful dog and charming kitten. For money, Amina makes ingeniously designed little charcoal stoves using steel wire she painstakingly salvages from old car and truck tires she buys. When she’s had enough, she covers her head and body, carefully balances the pans on her head, and roams the town selling them for the equivalent of a few dollars.

The family’s domestic tranquility has already been disturbed when the story opens, though you’re as clueless as Amina to what’s wrong. The screenwriter-director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, however, is a quick worker – the film is just under 90 minutes long – and quickly sketches out the story and the dark stakes for mother and daughter. Maria was expelled from school because she is pregnant. (“It’s bad for our image,” a school official coldly explains.) Maria won’t name the father. And she doesn’t want children, partly because she doesn’t want to end up like Amina, who suffered from being a single mother.

A bit like in the American independent film “Never Rarely Sometimes Alwaysthe struggle to achieve safe abortion here is difficult, heartbreaking and profound. Narratively, the effort to secure one quickly takes the form of an odyssey, a journey filled with misadventures, harrowing threats, and gender-related obstacles. For Amina, these obstacles include government bans on abortion, empty pockets, fidgeting and nodding. There is the bullying imam (Saleh Sambo) who questions his faith; and there’s the pesky neighbor (Youssouf Djaoro) who’s happy to flirt with her but doesn’t lend her money.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Review of "Lingui, the sacred bonds": Love, fierce and without limits
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