Joyland (2022)

Joyland (2022)

Heartbreaking and beautiful, this family drama deftly tackles gender roles and sexual dynamics in modern-day Pakistan

The Very Best

8.8

Movie

Pakistan, United States of America
Punjabi, urdu
Drama, Romance
2022
SAIM SADIQ
Ramiz Law, Rasti Farooq, Salmaan Peerzada
127 min

TLDR

A Biba performance at the Oscars would’ve saved the entire event and possibly changed lives, in my humble opinion.

What it's about

After he finally secures a job as a backup dancer for trans performer Biba (Alina Khan), Haider (Ali Junejo) explores his sexuality and defies rigid expectations in modern-day Pakistan.

The take

Joyland is groundbreaking on nearly all accounts. It’s the first Pakistani film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and to be shortlisted for an Oscar. Its forthright depiction of trans life and gender identity provoked the ire of local authorities, but it also inspired a nationwide movement (#ReleaseJoyland) that fought against censorship. It’s understandable, then, if the film is remembered for these disruptive achievements alone, but it should be noted that Joyland, as it is, is simply a stunning piece of cinema. 

Every scene is beautifully blocked and vibrantly lit, like a painting come to life, and every one of them is rich with meaning; there’s not a second we’re not diving deeper into the wonderfully complex lives of these people, all of whom are exploring sexuality and independence as best they can in a restricted environment. And sure, Biba and Haider’s relationship takes center stage as it reveals the nuances of queer love, but Joyland just as deftly tackles toxic masculinity (and how it’s a specter that haunts Haider’s household), domestic labor (and how it largely goes unnoticed), and female solidarity (and how it can literally save a girl’s life). Heartbreaking and lovely, this a family saga in that it’s as much about Haider’s family as it is about him, and it’s a shame if it weren’t remembered as such. 

What stands out

Every time Biba dances, she steals the show; likewise, every time Khan delivers a line, no matter how serious or hilarious it may be, she steals the scene. She’s a transfixing presence here; strong, powerful, beautiful, and believable. I know I just argued that Joyland is more than just its trans lead actor, but she is (and I mean this in the best possible way) very hard to ignore. Khan is a star and she makes sure we know it every time she appears onscreen.

Comments

Add a comment

Your name

Your comment

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

UP NEXT 

Rain (2019)

A girl finds true love in this unusual, marvelous, rain-soaked coming-of-age drama

8.1

The Guilty (2018)

A minimalist, razor-sharp thriller that will have you gasping for air.

9.0

Goodbye Mother (2019)

A closeted immigrant returns home with his love in this feel-good family drama

7.0

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

A star-studded and riveting legal drama with a blockbuster feel.

8.1

Stand and Deliver (1988)

An inspirational, if a bit embellished, depiction of a maverick math teacher

7.4

Forgotten Love (2023)

The stunning third take of the classic Polish pre-war melodrama

7.7

System Crasher (2019)

A tale of trauma and one of the most talked about movies on Netflix in 2020.

9.0

Ray (2004)

Jamie Foxx pays homage to the Genius in this lively and spirited biopic

7.1

Godzilla Minus One (2023)

A more story-driven Godzilla movie with a lot heart

8.0

Lilies (1996)

A passionate, underseen queer gem where a confession transforms into a memory play

7.5

Curated by humans, not algorithms.

agmtw logo

© 2024 agoodmovietowatch, all rights reserved.