Johan Nijenhuis, king of the Dutch romkom, seems to have noble intentions with Moroccan wedding† This film should appeal to white and Moroccan Dutch people. Praiseworthy, because Nijenhuis’ female, provincial fan base probably contains an above-average number of Islamophobic PVV voters. That makes it an upliftment of the people, an integration project.
Or is it? There also seems to be a plan B in operation. Last week the cast of Moroccan wedding very present in the Cannes film market. An expensive joke; I suspect that Nijenhuis is targeting the North African diaspora in Europe. He is a specialist in the cinema of confirmation, always reassures his viewers. The world really is as simple as you hope. All your prejudices are correct.
Moroccan wedding confirms Moroccan prejudices. For example, all the Dutch friends of heroine Yasmina are brainless blond sluts who dive into bed with the first guy; at a party, Yasmina can give one for free to a nephew in rut. ‘Cheeses’ are hypocritical grabbers or miserly tokkies who throw themselves in stained T-shirts on plastic plates full of snacks, chips and gherkins at a Dutch wedding. Fortunately, Moroccan ladies still provide some decorum in the form of a wedding dress and wedding cake.
In Moroccan wedding Lawyer Yasmina (Ahouaoui) realizes that at 26 years she is approaching her end of life. Work is fun, marriage better, everyone rubs her in: married girlfriends, concerned parents, bossy aunts. Now ‘work makes women unhappy’ is the leitmotif of most romantic comedies: love rivals present themselves easily. Sweltering hunk Samir (Benmbarek) is a caring garage owner who is a good cook, but is accused of theft. Plastic surgeon Ibrahim (Ayadi) is successful, but a clownish playboy. “I earned this piano with a labia correction, this four-breasted pool for twins.” Not marriage material, that Ibrahim, but a comedy of misunderstandings almost drives Yasmina to premarital sex, a fate worse than death. Also in the nightclub of Mocromaffia-type El Ghazi (Fardi), client of her chic law firm, her virginity threatens to die.
You can point to the sometimes clunky script, the commercials, the wooden mise en scene, the cardboard characters, the flat acting, the clichés. But this is chip shop, not gastronomy. Nijenhuis is also a competent no-nonsense director who keeps up the momentum with simple, often flat tricks. His post-busy style almost always finds his audience. I am curious what market this product will tap into.
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of June 1, 2022