Memory Box review – youthful pain and joy in 1980s Lebanon

Teenage girls are taken seriously in Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige’s lively coming-of-age drama. In Montreal, a blizzard rages as Alex (Paloma Vauthier) pores over her mother Maia’s “memory box”, a trove of correspondence from her youth in 1980s Beirut. Notebooks, photographs and cassette tapes form a self-portrait of Maia’s adolescence, detailing her vices (smoking), secret boyfriends (“Raja”) and favourite songs (Fade to Grey by Visage). They are also a portal to her memories of the Lebanese civil war, a painful experience she has chosen not to share with her daughter. Hadjithomas and Joreige thoughtfully explore trauma while remaining joyful, animating Maia’s photos, which fizz, crackle and dance to life on screen.


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