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  • Wendy Shreve

LAMYA'S POEM FINDS HOPE AMONG THE RUINS


Only from the heart can you touch the sky.

--Rumi


A girl running through a field catching fireflies appears to be an innocent pastime. But when that open space sits among the ruins of war-torn Aleppo, Syria in 2016, already the viewer's heart races with fearful anticipation.


Though Lamya's Poem (2021) is an animated feature, its lyricism and pathos will touch any

compassionate human being. The story begins with the above moment then segues to the time of Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī, a.k.a. the Persian poet, Rumi, during the early 13th century when Mongol marauders attack his homeland. The young writer, who composes magical verse symbolizing love, learns that the emotion can manifest in many forms.


His modern counterpart, Lamya, an avid reader who's drawn to Rumi's book of poetry given to her by a beloved teacher, will discover her volume has its own magic: a talisman that gives the young girl strength, along with her faith, when she and her mother become separated as they attempt to flee Syria.


Lamya's Poem does not exploit the violence that ravished Aleppo during the war nor does it soften the impact. And through the use of a child's imagination--as Lamya envisions Rumi's verse stories, from red-eyed monsters to wind-swept deserts--along with Rumi's own experience centuries before when his faith and love are also tested--the imagery entwines to visually touch our fascination.


The animators use color sparingly, especially during the modern depiction, yet effectively. Soft palettes are juxtaposed to darker palettes, representing combatants as well as demons. Characters, though computer-animated, appear to be hand-drawn, created and delineated with such care.


Also, the talented voice actors, including Mena Massoud (Aladdin, 2019) and Millie Davis as the title character, refrain from emoting. In particular, many of the performers imbue the dialogue with tonal shades of anxiety and joy, heard too in Composer Christopher Willis's score.


Writer/Director Alexander Kronemer gives the audience much to absorb, although the stories are relatable to all ages. Besides this, he has depicted Persian and Syrian history, culture and war with great sensitivity.


To watch Lamya's Poem is to undergo a visual enlightenment about all forms of love.


Unrated, animated feature. Viewer discretion is advised for imperiled children, explosions, and frightening monsters. The one hour and twenty-nine minute running time may be too long for very young audiences. An American-Canadian production.


Available for virtual streaming October 1. Opening at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) on October 9th.


Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies or my previous blog site, featuringfilm.com


Care to share? Post or e-mail your comments to featuringfilmreviewer@gmail.com

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