System Failure

You Resemble Me

by Tori Hanes

How easy it is to cast mindless blame, right? How thoughtless an act to blindly hate those constructed to be our villains. The easiness of hate comes from the idea of the “other” – an unknown enemy, distant and different. The metaphorical peeling of the onion, cathartic and harrowing, is how first-time director/co-writer Dina Amer makes the “other” the protagonist of You Resemble Me.

You Resemble Me expedites this connection to the “other”, forcing bitter tears to stream down unready cheeks. Following alleged suicide bomber (later found to be homicide victim) Hasna Ait Boulachen through her twisted and harrowing past, Amer examines the universal pipeline from neglect to radicalism. 

Amer strengthens this story with overarching themes. Whether it be a victim of abuse’s search for family, neglect manifesting into harm, or yearnings for connection, there is a strong and present backbone throughout Hasna’s tragic tale.

These ideas act as an anchor for Hasna’s orbit, and for the cast of performers. Young Hasna (Lorenza Grimaudo) embodies the fitful spirit being darkened by trauma, while adult Hasna (Mouna Soualem) shows mature yearnings. 

Each performance surrounding the two leads molds itself to represent one of Amer’s themes. While this creates a spotlight around Hasna as a character, it dims the other actors – a tragedy of sorts, as the actors’ potential screams for opportunity.

While the delve into trauma is successful at humanizing, the pipeline effect Amer relies on leaves little room for nuance. This creates a tunnel vision rehashing of an incredibly complex existence, boiling down to its more traumatic cause-and-effect moments.

The discomfort in becoming what you’ve been bred to fear is the soul of You Resemble Me. Audiences who choose to engage will unwittingly participate in slicing the onion, with tears to show for it.

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