Critics' Pick

What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si) (NR)

Drama 106 min. July 13, 2018
By Chuck Wilson
The title of this superb drama from Norwegian writer-director Iram Haq (I Am Yours) isn’t subtle, but it’s true to the concern that spurs so many of its characters to do terrible things. Drawing on her own life experience, Haq gives us Nisha (Maria Mozhdah), a beautiful 16-year-old born and raised in Oslo. By day, she lives the life of a typical teen — endless texting, boisterous partying and the possibility of first love — while at home she’s quiet and reserved as she tries to honor the traditions of her Pakistani family. When Nisha slips up and invites a local boy into her room late at night — they barely kiss — her father, Mirza (Adil Hussain), goes ballistic, hitting the boy and threatening to kill Nisha.

That response is jolting, but Haq isn’t interested in casting the father as an easy villain. Instead, in the days that follow, we see Mirza’s friends pressing him to act boldly, for the good of the Pakistani community. And so it is that Nisha, against her will, is taken to Islamabad and left with relatives, who greet her instinct to rebel with harsh outrage, while always worrying, “What will they say about us if you act this way?” There are many turns of plot in Haq’s taut screenplay, including Nisha’s terrifying encounter with thuggish local police, but the suspense here is always based on emotion and our deep concern for Nisha. In her film debut, Mozhdah is a wonder, giving a performance that’s truly all in the eyes. We hang on her every blink.
Iram Haq Maria Mozhdah, Adil Hussain, Ekavali Khanna, Rohit Saraf, Ali Arfan Iram Haq Kino Lorber Films

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