Identification Is At Heart Of Charming, Heartwarming Coming Of Age [SXSW]

Rising up is tough. Rising up with a mustache that began to develop out earlier than hitting puberty is even tougher. Add to the truth that Ilyas is a Pakistani American teen going to public college for the primary time, and one can anticipate a couple of shenanigans available. Written and directed by Imran J. Khan, Mustache is a touching, generally humorous coming of age. The movie isn’t shy about sporting its coronary heart on its sleeve, and although it doesn’t delve too deep into sure elements of Ilyas’ life, Khan handles the story and the principle character’s emotions gently.


Ilyas’ (Atherma Verma) mustache began rising on the age of ten. He’s been caught with it ever since and, regardless of being 14 years outdated, his dad and mom (Rizwan Manji and Mojeane Sadr) gained’t let him shave it. Because of his father’s flailing enterprise, Ilyas can also be confronted with a giant change, shifting from his Islamic college to a public college. Feeling like he doesn’t slot in, Ilyas concocts a plan along with his buddy Yasmeen (Ayana Manji): She writes Ilyas emails pretending to be his new girlfriend within the hopes that his dad and mom will discover out and ship him again to the varsity the place he no less than is aware of all the foundations.

Mustache isn’t making an attempt to do something out of the norm, however Khan handles the subject material with ease and a deep sense of heat. Ilyas is a relatable character who is solely having a troublesome time transitioning to a brand new college and feeling like he doesn’t slot in — be it due to his ethnicity and faith or his feeling bizarre in comparison with the opposite college students at his Islamic college. Ilyas struggles much more as a result of he doesn’t stay as much as his dad and mom’ expectations of him, and he’s usually feeling like a disappointment, particularly when he and so many different boys are in comparison with Arun, the highschool senior who’s seen for instance of what each Muslim youth ought to aspire to be.

Atherma Verma is great as Ilyas. He imbues the character with the correct quantity of minor awkwardness and earnestness. When he’s overcome with sure feelings, and doesn’t know methods to specific them, Verma’s efficiency permits the viewers to consider that he would take out his frustrations on others. Rizwan Manji is improbable as Ilyas’ father, and although he will get much less to work with, he provides all the pieces he’s bought to the position, making the character sympathetic. The remainder of the supporting forged is nice as properly regardless of not having sufficient time to shine.

There are specific components of Mustache that might have been expanded upon — together with Ilyas’ relationship along with his father, which is just briefly explored. There are a whole lot of layers there that go unearthed sadly, and whereas the movie is not any much less heartfelt due to it, the daddy/son dynamic might have been fleshed out additional had it been extra of a spotlight. This might need afforded Mustache a bit extra depth and better emotional stakes.

That stated, the movie stays an pleasurable watch regardless. Khan infuses Mustache with tenderness splashed with a little bit of awkwardness, which successfully encapsulates Ilyas’ coming-of-age story. The movie is filled with coronary heart and humor, and the message of self-acceptance in a world the place there may be strain to be anybody however oneself is affirming and wonderful. Bolstered by a improbable efficiency by Verma, Mustache makes for a candy and healthful viewing expertise.

Mustache had its premiere on the 2023 SXSW Movie Competition on March 12. The movie is 81 minutes lengthy and never but rated.

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