By the end of Dhalinyaro, three girls from Djibouti (played by Amina Mohamed Ali, Tousmo Mouhoumed Mohamed and Bilan Samir Moubus) would have gone through some universal and yet peculiar experiences of young adults. Their stories recall a truth of human life: Youth is wasted on the young.
What isn’t wasted on the young is the aspiration for freedom, the longing to be free to do as they please. And all three are infected by that longing even as they have different upbringings and psychologies.
Asma is raised poor and insecure, Deka (Ali) is dating a married man and estranged from her father, Hibo is a child of privilege with all the antagonism that comes with.
Deka becomes the film’s focus as she tries to figure out what to do about her married lover, her options for university and the estrangement from her dad.
In one exchange, the girls gather and begin to discuss Deka’s affair. Asma tells her friend that because she hasn’t slept with her married lover, he’d leave her. It is a cruel statement that at first Deka ignores with a flippant defiance. But it is important that she gets an answer. So there’s a pause. Then Deka asks, very concernedly, if her lover really will leave her if she doesn’t sleep with him. Asma responds with a shrug.
Fact is nobody knows but youth will not be youth if it couldn’t pass off conjecture as conviction.
As so much of the film is based on the interaction between the three girls, it falls on the actresses to provide a persuasive camaraderie. Under Lula Ali Ismail’s direction, they excel in doing just that so much so that from scene to scene, they seem indistinguishable from lifelong friends.
The film’s screenplay, also written by Ismail, handles their dialogue adeptly and it never feels as though the words were written beforehand. The words from the girls are imbued with the substance of youth.
A screenwriter who is older than her characters can sometimes let her experience and wisdom filter into the consciousness of her characters, an occurrence that plays out to jarring effect on the screen.
Somehow Ismail avoids that popular pitfall. And instead has made a film that looks and feels like a document of the lives of young girls.
Dhalinyaro is showing at the 2019 AFRIFF and is scheduled to screen on Monday, 11th November 2019.
Time: 6PM Screen: Filmhouse Landmark, Screen 4 and 5