Movie review: Quickening is a nuanced coming-of-age tale

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Acceleration, rather than opening with an inspirational quote or “inspired by a true story,” gives viewers definition. “Pseudocyesis: a psychosomatic condition that occurs without conception and is marked by some of the physical symptoms and changes in hormonal balance of pregnancy. »

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You’ll have to keep that in mind as you follow the touching and heartbreaking story of Sheila (Arooj Azeem), a Canadian university student and daughter of Pakistani immigrants, as she tries to navigate between social obligations and the expectations of two worlds. the same time.

Sheila, a performing arts student, seems to have a normal life (whatever that means). She has friends at school, a relatively stable family and childhood friends in the Pakistani community. She has a crush on a guy named Eden (Quinn Underwood). But she’s not close enough to anyone to share her deepest feelings and worst fears.

We’ve all seen movies where parents try to thwart young love, only to be proven wrong. But what happens when that love breaks down, completely outside of parental interference? When Eden suddenly breaks up with Sheila, her already fragile psyche worsens. Suddenly convinced that she is pregnant, she does not know what to do.

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Azeem does a great job here as Sheila, playing alongside her real-life parents, who struggle with what kind of boundaries to impose on their daughter, and also with a sudden job loss by the father. And writer/director Haya Waseem delivers a powerful dramatic feature debut, after directing documentaries and shorts, and working as an editor.

Incredibly shot and backed by a dreamy score, Acceleration – the title is also the term for when a mother feels the fetus move for the first time – has strong things to say about mental health issues in young adults, without ever falling into didacticism or easy answers. It’s also, quite simply, a gripping and resonant coming-of-age drama.

Quickening opens April 29 in Toronto, with more cities to follow.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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