For those (few) who managed to catch Ben Rivers’, The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, some of the imagery in Mimosas will no doubt look familiar. Director Oliver Laxe was seen shooting this film in part, also featuring as a director kidnapped, tortured and enslaved deep in Morocco. The long line of nomads seen navigating the treacherous mountain ranges in Rivers’ film are seen here accompanying a Sheikh en-route to the city of Sijilmasa. The frail Sheikh doesn’t survive the journey but his body still has to be transported to the city where he can be laid to rest.
Laxe shot the film on 16mm capturing the expanse of the Atlas Mountains in all its awe-inspiring glory. The small troupe of men who continue the journey onwards to Sijilmasa appear insignificant in size compared to the scale of the landscape that imposes itself into every scene. Ahmad and Said are joined by Shakib, an odd character who is viewed as some sort of religious guardian by the locals. We first see him in more modern surroundings, attempting to recall a parable for the local taxi drivers. He is asked by his boss to head out to meet the Sheikh and guide him along to his final resting place.
Initially the two settings seem like completely different timelines and Laxe offers no clues to make sense of the shift in narrative. Shakib is the only link between these two worlds and given his spiritual presence you are never quite sure whether he exists in one or both places. His odd gestures and hand movements create a magnetic aura, even though - much like the rest of the cast - he is not a professional actor. That mythical quality is exactly where Mimosas finds it strength, eschewing narrative almost in its entirety and allowing the intangible nature of faith to rest upon the shoulders of a trio seemingly shaping their own parable with every footprint they press into the land.
Three chapters separate the acts - bowing, standing, prostrating - each representative of the Islamic prayer positions and the arc of Ahmad's gradual understanding of faith. Even though the journey seems never ending, passing through rocky cliff tops, precarious rapids, snow covered mountains and expansive dusky plains, time barely seems to matter at all. There is a poetry to the film that is hard to explain and is best left discovered by immersing yourself within the languid pace and atmosphere. We never know for sure if Shakib is a merely a holy fool or wise man of God, but Laxe seems content with letting us discover our own meaning.