Tell Me About It
Dec 2, 2022
Ariya Larker, Raza Mallal, Ahmed Sher Zaman
Written and directed by Suman Hanif, Tell Me About It is a feature-length drama film that handles conflicts of identity, family and community. Amara is a teenage girl desperately seeking to escape the overbearing clutches of her traditional parents, when she winds up in the hands of kidnappers in a case of mistaken identity. As the kidnappers intended to snatch her best friend, Halima, daughter of local politician, sparks fly as Amara must try to escape whilst being confronted by the assailants who hold her hostage. This is a very thematic film and, whilst the execution is not mind-blowing, there is a strong positive message at its heart.
The film gets off to a shaky start with its slow pacing and limited action taking place. Despite a kidnapping taking place, action sequences are brief or basically non-existent and does not give the viewer much to work with, at least at first. However, as the storyline is slowly unravelled, these moments step out of the shadows and we are provided with several high-tension fight scenes and moments of escape. Hanif’s direction ensures that filming does match up with the story as it progresses in a natural way. The second half of the film definitely improves its pacing without feeling rushed or boring. Amara’s story maintains interest throughout, as the more drama-fuelled scenes are unpredictable and exciting.
At the heart of Tell Me About It is ultimately a troubled family seeking to repair their relationships to each other. The dynamic between parents and children has become strained due to several educational and familial expectations and responsibilities. Amara’s parents, specifically her mother, do not trust her which has led to her resentment and isolation. Less realistic are the bizarre interactions between Amara and her kidnapper, which does become clearer towards the end of the film but still confusing for the viewer when considering the context. Whilst there is some average acting in parts, performances improve throughout the duration and this creates some intensely emotional and powerful scenes. Amara and her family’s journey to reconciliation is conducted in their own way, which results in some heart-warming moments as they desire to improve their familial relationships.
In considering everything, this is brilliant representation of a British Muslim family that handles the challenges that they face with sympathy and a script that feels real. With a commitment to working with talent from different backgrounds, the majority of the cast and crew were based across the North of England, including Leeds, Birmingham and Bradford. It is refreshing to see such good authenticity within both cast and crew, particular with a film that handles representation of a British Muslim family and anxieties concerning their identity and community perception.
With some comedic moments integrated into the script, Tell Me About It does well to convey a dark story with real social issues that British Muslims face. It contributes well to the legacy of British Asian diaspora on screen and, with a varied use of camera shots and an intriguing story, it is worth watching.