Genre : Drama
Country : Pakistan/USA
Mahnoor Baloch : Maryam
Faran Tahir : Ali
Dendrie Taylor : Lea
Director : Jeremiah Birnbaum
“I have a bomb and a Pakistani kid, so I’m sure you can appreciate where we’ll have to go with this”
“Torn” manages to shake off the label “TV Movie”, thanks to the wonderful performances of the two female protagonists Mahnoor Baloch (Maryam) and Dendrie Taylor (Lea), two mothers who slowly grow closer to each other and support each other in their grief after the loss of their two sons, Walter and Eddie. The two teenage boys were killed in a blast that took place in a shopping mall. In the first place the explosion was due to a gas leak. Afterwards the accusations start which leads to resentment, anger and blaming eachother. The film title can be interpreted in different ways. Is it about the wrenching feelings of sadness ? Or is it about the breaking up of an accidentally formed friendship ? Or is it about the torn bodies of the victims after the bombing?
Their friendship was put to a test by the fact that the alleged gas leak apparently wasn’t the cause of the explosion. An FBI investigation was started because there were indications that it could be a terrorist attack. First Walter could be the culprit. On the one hand his Muslim Pakistani origin and on the other hand an incident where he fought with some other students after they used some racist statements, made sure he was placed on the list of suspects. The fact that his father Ali (Faran Tahir), was suspected as an accomplice in the attacks on the Twin Towers (this was refuted afterwards) is an additional factor. Eddie also appears to be one of the suspects since he expressed death threats against some students who bullied him all the time. After the bombing, the group of bullies was severely decimated, so Eddie came in sight of the FBI.
“Torn” is not a spectacle. Don’t expect spectacular action moments with devastating explosions and victims flying around with severed limbs as a result. It’s rather the explosive interaction between two cultures and the subtle way the racism and prejudices are shown. “Torn” manages to cram the tense issues like bullying among youth, racism and terrorism in a single film without using visual masterpieces. But although this was omitted, it remains a 80-minute short film which is interesting and fascinating to watch. Also it shows how the media in an indiscriminate manner draws conclusions and the resulting publications are the cause that the personal lives of individuals are ruined.
As mentioned before, the biggest part of acting is seized by the two female actresses. Mahnoor Balach is a Pakistani beauty with an engaging personality who charms you while performing on the screen. A gentle person with an endearing English with that well-known Pakistani accent. Dendrie Taylor didn’t really rang a bell. Yet I had recently seen her twice in another movie without knowing it. She was Degroat’s date in “Out of the furnace” and Lillian Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks“. I really couldn’t recognize her in this last movie. In this film she just needs to show her face which is loaded with emotions. It speaks volumes. The face of a single woman working as a cleaning-lady in the evenings, probably a poorly paid job, who must provide for the education of her teenage son. A hardworking woman who apparently isn’t on good terms with her ex who doesn’t bother about his son’s education.
So the focus is on the relationship between these two women and the way they deal with their grief and loss, the breach of confidence that develops and eventually the growing back to eachother. It has also a wonderful closures which is an indictment against the phenomenon of “prejudice” and once again proves that not everything is as it seems. A film that fits perfectly with the movie “The Citizen” that raises the same problems. “Torn” is a film with two beautiful interpretations. A film with an intensely emotional topic without turning into a corny tearjerker.