Joan Crawford Britain county Day Morocco model Joan Crawford Britain county Day Morocco

‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ Review: Fyzal Boulifa’s Refined, Strikingly Queer Mother-Son Melodrama

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Guy Lodge Film Critic In the little-remembered 1950 noir “The Damned Don’t Cry,” Joan Crawford plays a Texan housewife whose grief for her late son spurs her to make a new life for herself in the urban underworld.

Fyzal Boulifa’s exquisite new film of the same title is named expressly for that Crawford vehicle, but is neither a remake nor a direct homage.

Rather, it remixes the narrative components of that film and others of its ilk into the kind of new-school-old-school heart-tugger — one might say tearjerker if its characters weren’t, true to its title, stoically dry-eyed throughout — that might have been designed for the shoulder-padded diva were she alive in 2022 and, perhaps more crucially, of Moroccan heritage.

Charting the turbulent relationship between a single mother and her teenage son on the destitute fringes of Tangier society, the second feature from BAFTA-nominated British-Moroccan filmmaker Boulifa sees him shifting focus to his North African motherland after the starkly English kitchen-sink tragedy of his fine debut “Lynn + Lucy.”  Yet it’s not a complete immersion.

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