Queen Of My Dreams review — Fetching first feature crosses cultures

An earlier version of this review appeared on FITI last September at #TIFF2023

Written and Directed by Fawzia Mirza | 97 min | ▲▲▲△△

I gather Cape Breton-raised filmmaker Fawzia Mirza brings a lot of autobiography to this light, charming film, the story of Azra (Amrit Kaur) is a queer woman living in Toronto with her girlfriend (Charlie Boyle) in the late ’90s when her father dies suddenly while visiting Pakistan. Azra must go to Karachi and deal with the expectations of her devout Muslim mother, Miriam (Nimra Bucha, so wonderfully hissible as the villain in Polite Society), who hasn’t clued into Azra’s sexuality.

We then flash back to 1969 and a younger, far less uptight Miriam (also played by Kaur, with the picture nodding to the tradition of Bollywood actors playing multiple generations in movies) is being wooed by a young med student, Hassan (Hamza Haq). The storytelling leans into the romantic fantasy style of the movies Azra loves and grew up watching.

The cast here is excellent, the cinematography in Pakistan is bright and colourful — how they were able to convincingly de-age Karachi by more than 50 years is a genuine feat — and the stylistic conceit of a slideshow to evoke a looking back is a total charmer.

While a few plot threads don’t entirely tie up — I would’ve liked more time devoted to Azra’s 1990s struggles against the Pakistani patriarchy — the overall vibe here is lovely, effectively conveying a genuine affection for both Bollywood romantic traditions and the connections between mothers and daughters. Amrit Kaur has genuine star power, her smile lights up the screen, and Mirza’s filmmaking confidence suggests she’s got a robust career ahead of her.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.