Salma’s Home (2022) 

Three women find their lives thrown together after the passing of one man. As things go from bad to worse, they are forced to work together to make ends meet. 

Written and directed by Hanadi Elyan, Salma’s Home is an intimate look into family dynamics, female relationships, and grief. The writing and directing here are careful, allowing an understanding of the characters and what is going on for them with a view on their personalities, their feelings, their struggles, without ever becoming voyeuristic. The lead characters aren’t perfect people, they are not models, they are not faultless, they are very real women. They have lives and these lives interconnect through family and struggle. The way they are written gives them dimension and a lot to work with. Or course, they all do things that came off wrong or annoying (a middle-aged influencer, somehow works here). The film shows their characters are more than just means to a story, it shows them as the reason for the story and shows them in a light where the viewer can connect with them and get attached. 

Playing these three leads are Juliet Awad as Salma, Sameera Asir as Salma’s daughter Farah, and Rania Kurdi as Farah’s stepmother Lamia. These three ladies carry the film and give fantastic performances that really connect to both the material and the viewer. The work of Juliet Awad is particularly on point here, giving Salma a variety of emotions, showing her struggles, her hopes, and her strength. This performance is not only central to the film, it gives it life. Sameera Asir gets a whole different story arc and she really makes the character of Farah come to life. Rania Kurdi comes off as disagreeable, needy, and annoying at first, which is exactly where she needs to be. Her arc gives her a chance to really evolve her performance and show what she is capable of. 

The film here is shot in Jordan and the images are very familiar with house sequences, which are done in a way that shows both where it takes place and that families and homes are not so different in feeling, and then a bit less familiar for American audiences with outdoor sequences that really show the land and how beautiful it is. There is a simplicity in how everything is film, the cinematography by Marcus Patterson and the editing by Hanadi Elyan allow these places to shine in images that are yes simple, but also quite beautiful. 

Salma’s Home is a family drama about three women put against the odds and forced to come together that is no overly sweet or too explosive. This is a carefully crafted drama that feels like home in parts and that is also different in a way that works perfectly. There aren’t any loud arguments, any shouting matches that last too long, or exaggerations. Here are shown the lives of three women who are struggling and this is shown in a genuine, heartfelt manner.