MOVIES: BFI Flare – The Queen of My Dreams – Review

Fawiza Mirza steps in the director’s chair for a colourful, vibrant story of the big generational gap between Amrit Kaur and her conservative muslin mother, played by Nimra Bucha. When her father passes, Azra returns from the United States and embarks on a Bollywood influenced journey of self-discovery, at the same time we flashback to her mother’s first time in rural Canada – a real eye-opener on both occasions.

The structure of the movie’s narrative between the past and the present can mean that The Queen of my Dreams feels a little stilted at times, but it’s vibrant and full of energy which keeps it occupied and bursting full of life. There is a youthful theme of following your dreams and staying young, chasing them no matter the generation – and Mirza brings to the table that with confidence that makes this more than watchable. I really love the first half – its humour allows for a funny touch with editing that really makes everything sing, and I really like how well fleshed out the characters are.

The political elements come into play in The Queen of My Dreams and it’s not afraid to take risks, which is bold – anti-imperialist and revolutionary. There’s hidden depth beneath the charm of The Queen of My Dreams at play which turn it into an instantly likeable feature, not overwhelming, never a chore – the central performances of both give way to a film that avoids the cliché of the “parents of non-American children are Conservative” which it appears to be heading into only to subvert it when you least expect it. It’s a very welcome breath of fresh air – and the passion is infectious from the start; when Azra introduces her white female “roommate” to Aradhana, her favourite film – complete with a live sing-a-long. Not ready to come out to her parents the awkward phone-calls make for great comedy.

There’s few connective tissue between the multiple timelines at play and The Queen of my Dreams can sometimes feel disjointed at once. It lacks intimacy and it can feel distant when it’s tackling the two stories – with the past being presented as this cartoonish caricature rather than something darker. It’s aggressively tongue in cheek in a way that will win you over – and the classic Bollywood performances brought to life in this film really makes it likeable, issues and all.

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