Movie Review: Farewell Amor
by Julie Perez
Farewell Amor is a story of an Angolan immigrant family attempting to reconnect, while overcoming the time that they lost and will never get back.
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY EKWA MSANGI, Farewell Amor tells a story that will stand the test of time. This story of immigration is told by a loving lens and each character is so well thought-out that you find yourself rooting for this family the entire time. When Walter (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) is joined in Brooklyn by his wife Esther (Zainab Jah) and daughter Sylvia (Jayme Lawson) after 17 years of being kept apart by borders, their journey together quickly becomes complicated. The strain that time has put on everyone’s connection is so beautifully and delicately portrayed that it makes you instantly ache for this family.
The best part of this film may just be the way each character is given time and space to portray their own version of the story. Seventeen years is quite a long time to be apart and when we find out that Walter has lived an entire life while in Brooklyn by himself, you’ll still be hard-pressed to truly see Walter in a bad light. Msangi tells that part of the story so delicately that you find yourself understanding his decisions and aching for his heartbreak. Walter is a flawed-human after all but despite his indiscretions, he goes out of his way to make Esther and Sylvia feel comfortable in their new home.
Sylvia finds herself in a new country, with a traditional mother and with dreams that she immediately starts trying to fulfill. Though she struggles to come out of her shell, her blossoming journey throughout the film feels inspiring. The way she navigates the culture-shock and her desire to be a dancer makes you instantly fall in love with Sylvia. There is bravery in every one of her actions and you leave her story knowing that there’s so much more left for her to accomplish. Jayme Lawson portrays Sylvia with the kind of subtlety that slowly sneaks up on you but your belief in the character never falters.
Esther is attempting to be the best wife she can be to Walter. She cooks, she cleans and she tries to ignore the lingering feeling that there may have been another woman. Her perseverance is where the heart of this film is because even when her faith in herself falters, she still believes in her daughter. Her desire to provide a better life for her daughter is what drives her and you never stop believing that throughout the film. Zainab Jah’s portrayal of Esther is nuanced and feels so immensely intimate, that it will leave you with great anticipation to find out what Zainab Jah does next.
This film feels like hope. It unapologetically portrays a complicated story while keeping each character dignified and without blame. If this is Ekwa Msangi’s debut feature, I cannot wait to see what other stories she has yet to tell.