Stream it or skip it? | Bot To News

French filmmaker Maimouna Doucure follows her debut Cuties – disputed without any good reason – with Rabbit (now on Amazon Prime Video), another insight into the psychology of modern youth. Rabbit Sania Khalifa marks the debut of a 15-year-old Parisian girl who, anticipating the death of her terminally ill grandmother, does everything she can to meet Michelle Obama in hopes of becoming her adoptive mother. Before you raise a skeptical eyebrow at such an in-your-face silly premise, be aware that Doucoure strikes a compelling tone between the practical and the imaginative for this modern allegory.

Hawa: Stream it or skip it?

Summary: It doesn’t seem to matter if people like Hawa. She is who she is and she wants what she wants, and that’s it. If you get in her way, she will push you away. If you want something from her, she will take it. If you steal from her, she will blast you in the face with bug spray. She stands out: she has an albino complexion, she wears thick coke-bottle glasses, her afro is full and brown. Take her or leave her, you’d be wise to take her. You need someone with her determination on your side.

Hawa is the daughter of Cameroonian immigrants. She is raised strong by her grandmother Maminata (Omu Sangare) who acts as a griot who sings stories in the oral tradition of her native land. Where are Hawa’s parents? We don’t know, but it can’t be good, right? The rabbit has certainly been strong for a long time. She must continue to be strong – Maminata is dying of an unspecified illness, and she is looking for someone to take in her granddaughter. Her granddaughter, who has stubbornly rejected adopters, faces the possibility of social services placing her in a foster home.

Her granddaughter, Hawa, grew wild one day when she decided Michelle Obama was the only suitable adoptive mother for her. Both of her daughters are now on their own, and she lives in a 12-bedroom house, so of course she has room, air reasons – quite practically, you have to admit. Michelle Obama will be in Paris on a book tour, so when she finds Maminata unconscious on the floor, working at a corner grocery store or calling paramedics for cash, she tries her hardest to meet the famous lady. Hawa has a friend, the adorably mumbling misfit Arwan (Titouan Gerbier), who helps her a little on her quest, which brings her into the realm of pop singer Yseult (playing herself) and astronaut Thomas Pesquet (playing himself). Give a little more than you expect. But that chicken. She is beautiful, funny, tenacious, intense and very disarming.

Hawa Movie Streaming
Photo: Prime Video

What movies does it remind you of?: Ben Zeitlin’s magical-realist films Southern wild beasts and Wendy Come to mind, or Mati Diop’s AtlanticBut the fairy-tales were very subtle, and crossed CutiesUrban-Parisian pragmatism.

Performances to watch: As did with her CutiesDoucoure shows a deft guiding hand for young actors – like Halifa, helping to define Rabbit Far beyond any potential genre boundaries, playing a character that is never tense, manipulative or precocious and always himself and only himself.

Memorable conversation: Arwan stupidly questions Hawa about her motives, as if he expects a satisfactory answer:

Hawa: Michelle Obama – I want to adopt her.

Arwan: But why?

Hawa: Just because.

Sex and skin: Nothing.

Our take: The snarky bastard in me finds the intrigue there Rabbit To be an irritating subterfuge. But the quirky idealist in me finds it charming. Don’t be a sneaky bastard – Rabbit A fun exercise in deep confusion, understated humor and rich character, with occasional bursts of inspired precision filmmaking. It’s tempting to define the film in terms of magical realism, but that only skims the edges of the classification. Without reference to social media, politics or any of the defining features of the day, it’s worth noting how the screenplay – by Doucoure, Zangro and Alain-Michel Blanc – is set slightly out of time. Instead, Hawa has a set of accessories drawn from classic storybooks: a sad background, a good friend, a wise old man, a reliable scooter, an indomitable focus, and an innate ability to connect with dreamers, artists and scientists.

On the surface, the film has the premise of a Disney Channel movie, with a young lead adorably bending over backwards, playing a “normal kid” through unlikely channels to an unlikely conclusion — and hey, you dream big, it just might come true. In a word, yak. Rabbit There is no use for such confused feelings or easy answers. Hawa somehow finds his way to Michelle Obama’s hospitality room at a children’s hospital during a backstage performance, even through the airport baggage terminal and onto the beautifully constructed tarmac of an internationally famous woman’s private jet with heavy security detail. , with palpable suspense and clever cinematography.

Admittedly, those sequences also blatantly defy logic. But subtle visual gestures within the filmmaking suggest a grander idea, that fate is at work here, and that Hawa’s fate is not as simple and obvious as landing a rich, famous adoptive parent. The larger purpose of these moments comes into focus in the film’s powerful finale, where reality finds a way to collapse so gently that it’s hard not to be moved and inspired. Hawa is an exceptional person, no doubt, but does that mean she is entitled to an exceptional experience? Well, that depends on how you define “unique experience,” as the film allows us to ponder.

Our call: Stream it. Rabbit A delightful, delightfully understated novel with strong performances and even stronger direction.

John Zerba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more about his work at

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