LetterboxD review link

Lucia Berlin’s short story “A Manual for Cleaning Women” kept coming up for me during this film. Probably because of the direct connection in terms of the protagonist’s occupation but also because of the emotional quality of this film. The current focus on refugees in today’s news cycle was also on my mind. Fatima and Nesrine are hard working, aware of their place as immigrants and lower class citizens in France, aware of the racial prejudices against Arabs, aware that they must keep their emotions and egos in check and put all their focus on making a good life in this new place.

Like Berlin’s writing, this film is sparse and concerned with every day details. The emotions, however, are remarkably clear on the screen. The non-professional acting is sometimes distracting but it is balanced by adept directing and editing. A film made by and seemingly for women, Fatima is a well executed short story in the life of an immigrant family trying to make it in the modern world.