Toronto 2019: 1982

Nadine Labaki in 1982. Courtesy of Tricycle Logic.

A pre-teenage boy wants to tell a fellow classmate how he feels about her in 1982 but this is just one aspect of the film.

Writer-director Oualid Mouaness grounds this film by way of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.  It’s the last day of school but for one 11-year-old, Wissam (Mohammad Dali), he just has one goal before the school year comes to end.  This particular goal is to inform fellow classmate Joanna (Gia Madi) of his feelings.  That’s…cute.  A few fellow classmates get in the way of this goal to an extent: Majid (Ghassan Maalouf) and Abir (Leyla Harkous).  Abir clearly comes from a different background than Joanna.  Wissam passes along a drawing with a note for Joanna.  Somewhere along the way, Abir convinces Joanna that Majid is the secret admirer.  The two couldn’t be more wrong but it also somewhat lightens the tone with everything else going on.

As far as the adults are concerned, Yasmine (Nadine Labaki) and Joseph (Rodrigue Sleiman) have their own worries.  We rarely see Joseph away from the radio.  The news is important–likewise for most people. Yasmine’s husband has been sent down to the front so she’s even more worried.

The most fascinating choice is the decision for Yasmine to be an English-language teacher.  I know that most countries typically teach English to an extent.  I just did not expect a decent amount of English in the film.  It’s a lovely surprise.

While the film is set during the war between Israel and Lebanon in 1982, it doesn’t attempt to make any kind of political commentary.  This isn’t to say that they don’t stop what they’re doing because of the war because it’s hard to go about your day.  Nobody can deny this, of course.  If you look at the adults, you can see the look of worry in their eyes.  We can’t really say the same about the children.  They are seemingly going on as if nothing else is happening.  Obviously, the two worlds collide at one point or another during the film.

At the end of the day, 1982 could be set during any time or place because pre-teens or teenagers having feelings for one another is a universal story.

CAST:  Nadine Labaki, Mohammad Dali, Ghassan Maalouf, Aliya Khalidi, Rodrigue Sleiman, Gia Madi, Leyla Harkous, Saeed Serhan, Zeina Demelero

1982 holds its world premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery program. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.