I recall seeing the trailer for this film at a film festival -- methinks. I don't really recall but its been in my queue for some time. I have never been to the Muslim Francophone world. The setting of this film reminds me of what I think of when I recall stories from Arabian Nights. I can't complain. The "scorching romance" I think may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I think the movie has just enough to be a romance with tender moments. Here is a summary:
After returning from France to his mother's home in Tunisia after the death of his father, 30 year old gay architect Malik cannot fully adjust to the proper cultural mores of his homeland and ends up dabbling in the shadow world of his homeland (more below on this). He also flatly rejects his mother's expectation that he should marry a local woman. Then he meets another alienation Francophone Bilal and through the process of relating, comes to adjust.On one hand, I see that there is a process of character development going on here. The mother is almost fanatically anti-gay and pushing local women on Malik. Malik goes from totally alienated to being somewhat integrated.
On the other, however, I can see where claims can be made regarding homosexuality and maternal overbearingness. Remember in Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much, me thinks." Yes, well, this would be an instance of it. The mother turns out to really enjoy the fact that her son is gay. What is her purpose in pushing these local women on him, really? Perhaps she does not want him to have any other woman. She is satisfied with how he resolves this issue (which I won't spoil for you). But the movie does not conclude, I think, with any real development of the mother. Sadly.
Then, there is Malik. I was fascinated by how he rode around a neighborhood on his motorcycle and simply stared at guys until he found one he liked. The guy then walked up to him and said: "Want to take my picture?" On n'est pas sorti de l'auberge! They ended up in some Arabian Night inspired backroom somewhere where Malik gets practically raped by this ruffian. That was one aspect of this shadow world of Tunisia. Then, watching this within a day of citybuoy's post on cousins, Malik sniffs poppers and has sex with his cousin in a dance-club bathroom. His cousin reveals his cousin relation to Malik, Malik then says they will forget they are cousins just that night. The cousin, however, says, this really makes them cousins. You see, the underbelly of the social realm is in a bathroom in a dance-club.
I found the setting and cinematography to be worth the watch alone. Yet, the ethnographic information about Tunisian life was also useful.