Review: Lamya’s Poem

Written and directed by Alexander Kronemer, a young refugee girl fleeing violence and war finds a book of poetry by the celebrated 13th century poet, Rumi. The book becomes a magical gateway where she meets the young Rumi when he was a refugee, escaping the terrible wars of his time. In a shared dream world populated by monsters and other threats that represent the perils they face on their respective journeys, she must help him write the poem that 800 years later will save her life. Starring: Millie Davis, Faran Tahir, Mena Massoud, Raoul Bhaneja, Aya Bryn Zakarya and Nissae Isen.

The style of Lamya’s Poem immediately evokes the feel of a children’s book come to life, which was a perfect choice. It may look unpolished to some but those rough edges and its simplicity set a tone of wholesomeness and fits its welcoming intentions. Moving back and forth from its heroine Lamya (Millie Davis) to its historical and mythical storytelling works surprisingly well. The pacing is smooth and it holds your attention easily, it plays upon the imagination but still reflects the hardship and harrowing nature to the story. It sets a great atmosphere which can balance both by seeing everything through Lamya’s eyes and that childlike perspective keeps everything on the same page.

She’s also simply a wonderful character to lead this story and she’s voiced lovingly and softly by Millie Davis. Davis gives Lamya intelligence and charm, she’s still plenty naïve as you’d expect of someone her age but she’s also resilient and committed. It may sound like an odd comparison but there’s something to it that’s reminiscent of Pinocchio, in the sense of that strong bond between child and parent, and a hugely active imagination and curiosity. The only downside of the story is that during its final scenes, there was more room to explore. Both with the situation they find themselves in which reflects many displaced people escaping war and persecution, and by not fully embracing its most satisfying moment and simply letting it fade out.

The rest of the cast also follow that tone of openness and kindness, particularly Raoul Bhaneja’s Mr. Hamadani. Alongside Davis they create a very sweet relationship, his love of teaching and her love of learning is a perfect match. The whole ensemble tap into the sentimental but sincere nature to the story. It’s interesting also how the dialogue is delivered and its choice of words, even just the simple conversations between characters have a poetic quality. They’re very flowing and descriptive, which is a difficult thing to create while still feeling natural but it works here.

Lamya’s Poem brings to life a children’s tale within a story of wartime survival and manages to retain a thoughtful, kind atmosphere. It’s extremely wholesome and the design of the animation genuinely reflects that. It’s impressive how well it keeps a balance to show the harsher side without becoming heavy, to move back and forth between that struggle and the inner stories, while still remaining accessible for children. There’s a softness and colourfulness to it but it never becomes overly sentimental.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Available on DVD & Digital in the US February 21

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