Seeking justice for a student’s assault becomes an all-consuming vendetta for a college professor in Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s second feature — the first Bangladeshi film to screen at Cannes.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Doctor Rehana Maryam Noor (Azmeri Haque Badhon) works tirelessly to balance the demands of her role as an associate professor with her responsibilities as a single mother, sister and daughter. The sole breadwinner for her family, Rehana spends long days that bleed into late nights at the medical college where she works; one evening while leaving her office, Rehana overhears a student being assaulted by her colleague (Kazi Sami Hassan). The fallout of this event sets Rehana on a path of retribution that slowly teeters into the realm of obsession.
Claustrophobic and compelling, Abdullah Mohammad Saad’s direction never allows Rehana – or the audience – to leave the halls of the medical college where she works. Azmeri Haque Badhon is mesmerising as the film’s titular character, deftly conveying the rage that simmers beneath the surface as Rehana rails against a school, system and society that wants to turn a blind eye to the cruelty of powerful men. Rehana becomes increasingly desperate as the likelihood of punishment dims, leaving the audience to lie in wait as we anticipate what she will put on the line in her uncompromising pursuit of justice. A portrait of a woman who refuses to stay silent or stand aside in the face of abuse, Rehana Maryam Noor explores how the burden of guilt and action in the face of violence inevitably falls on all but the perpetrator. — Samantha Gianotti