Aisha (2022) 

Aisha is an immigrant looking for safety in Ireland. As she goes through the system, she meets a former prison turned security agent who she gets close to. As their friendship blossoms, her options to remain in Ireland dwindle. 

Written and directed by Frank Berry, Aisha is a slow-moving film that takes its time establishing the characters and situations they are, prioritizing in depth moments over action, giving the characters fully fleshed out personalities (for the leads that is) and giving them something to connect with the audience. Of course, those who have dealt with immigration and asylum status in particular will most likely connect faster and deeper here. The writing is solid and so is the directing, but the film does have some pacing issues. It is purposefully slower in pace, but some sections do feel too slow for their own good. The ending is one that is ambiguous and could be taken as hopeful or as the opposite, leaving it up to interpretation, and leaving it a bit frustrating for some viewers for sure. 

The cast here is led by Letitia Wright who is amazing in the titular role, giving the character depth and making her someone we call all care about even when things don’t go so well, and she might be at fault. She makes the viewer care about Aisha and makes Aisha a full-fledged human, someone that brings her story to life and makes it as real as a fiction film can. Playing her friend, the one person she confides in locally, is Josh O’Connor who gives a calculated performance here, being the sounding board and support for both Aisha and Letitia. His work here is in the small details of the character, showing that he can take someone who is fairly simple and bring him forth into something more. His performance here is a supporting one, but it shines in many scenes. The cast in general is great here, making the viewer either care for them or downright hate their characters. As this is a character driven film, these performances are of upmost importance, giving the film its life, but also its impact. 

The film in and of itself looks great with cinematography by Tom Comerford that shows the different places in Ireland that the film travels to in their own light with a gentle touch of style. The work here is made to put the entire emphasis on the characters, allow the viewer to properly see them and see their emotions. The film is one that looks great, has a few stunning establishing shots here and there, but knows where the story lies, letting it be the central piece of it all while supporting it with the right angles, the right framing, and proper lighting.  

Aisha is an important film in this world where immigrants are often blamed for things out of their control, where people judge without knowing a person and their life, where a seemingly small story can help change some minds and hearts. Aisha is a film that does not tell the viewer what to think, it simply shows the reality of one person (and by extension those around her) through her story, her life, her difficulties. The film is well-written, well-acted, and well-shot. It’s not going to connect with everyone, but for those it does connect with, it will resonate and be remembered for a while after the credits roll.