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Breaking Boundaries: a Heartfelt Journey Through Tradition and Change



Genre: Drama
Year Released: 2022, 2023 wider release
Runtime: 2h 7m
Director(s): Saim Sadiq
Writer(s): Saim Sadiq
Cast: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Sohail Sameer, Salmaan Peerzada, Sania Saeed
Language: Urdu, Punjabi with English subtitles
Where To Watch: find the showing nearest you starting April 7, 2023

RAVING REVIEW: Saim Sadiq's directorial debut, JOYLAND, takes viewers on a tour of love and desire within the confines of a society that doesn’t support freedom of expression. Set in Lahore, Pakistan, the story follows a man named Haider, played by Ali Junejo, who finds work as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-inspired burlesque show after being unemployed for some time. He pretends to be a theater manager to keep his family in the dark. This career choice shakes the family to the core, yet this allows him to blossom and find himself in a friendship with a trans woman Biba, played by Alina Khan, who is headlining the show.

JOYLAND's screenplay, penned by Saim Sadiq, examines character development and highlights the complexities of individual choices in an oppressive society. The film brilliantly mixes comedy and drama, using brilliant writing to reveal hidden aspects of Pakistani life while confronting what is expected of people in this society and the pursuit of personal freedom. Supporting characters, including Haider’s wife, Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq), and Biba, defy stereotypes and push back against societal expectations. This is such a timely film, covering many topics considered hot buttons worldwide today.

With striking visuals and an enchanting soundtrack, JOYLAND is more than a film; it’s an experience. JOYLAND examines the depths of freedom, unearthing the myriad emotions and feelings that comprise our human journeys. 

JOYLAND is a melodrama that documents the transformation of what we first see as a family, weaving various perspectives and experiences together. While the film's initial focus appears to be on LGBTQ+ issues, it expands to provide a broader perspective on life's complexities in Pakistan. The film's nuanced portrayal of its characters and situations lets us look into their lives without being too in your face, emphasizing that real life rarely ends up being how we expect it to be. Saim Sadiq balances an intricate web of relationships that form the film's core. 

In conclusion, JOYLAND is a striking film that examines Pakistan's patriarchal system through human lives. Sadiq crafted a memorable tale touching on themes of love, identity, and freedom, all within a society grappling with change.

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[photo courtesy of OSCILLOSCOPE]

Chris Jones
Entertainment Editor

Chris Jones is the Mail Entertainment Editor covering Movies and Television topics. He is from Washington, Illinois, and is the owner, writer, and editor of Overly Honest Reviews.