SXSW 2017 REVIEW: SIGNATURE MOVE

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By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

I must say that this year’s festival was a pretty good year for diversity in cinema.  Director Jennifer Reeder’s Signature Move features a Muslim Pakistani-American, lesbian protagonist trying to pursue a romantic relationship with a Mexican-American girlfriend, but without revealing the complete truth to her uber-traditional mother.  The film is a delightful comedy that not only celebrates both Pakistani and Mexican cultures, but also takes its audience into the world of women’s Lucha wrestling.  The result is a highly lovable film with smartly written comedy and a lot of heart.

Fawzia Mira stars as Zaynab, a Pakistani lawyer living in Chicago with her devout Muslim mother (Shabana Azmi).  Everyday, Zaynab’s mother Parveen watches her melodramatic, Pakistani soaps while peeking out her window for a single male with whom to match her daughter.  Little does she know, Zaynab actually prefers women, but really doesn’t have much of a social life.  That is, until she meets the dauntless and spirited Alma (Sari Sanchez).  Zaynab falls for the vibrant young woman, but has difficulty revealing the truth to her mother.  While secretly dating Alma, Zaynab also discovers a new and exciting hobby that helps her find some inner strength when a client offers to train her in the ways of Lucha wrestling.

Written by Lisa Donato and Fawzia Mira, Signature Move is a refreshing and effervescent comedy full of romance, heart, and joire de vivre.  The movie features a great assortment of lovable characters and can boast outstanding performances by Fawzia Mira, Shabana Azmi, Sari Sanchez, and Audrey Francis.  Most of the humor is spot on and all of the more heartfelt beats hit the right notes.  During a time when Muslim characters get stereotyped as terrorists and the climate for Muslim-Americans is rather unfriendly, Reeder’s and Mira’s movie offers a more positive perspective on the culture and celebrates diversity on so many levels.

 

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