FAREWELL AMOR – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Farewell Amor is an intimate soap opera blessed with an engaging small cast and an intriguing premise: What happens when Esther (Zainab Jah), an Angolan woman, and Sylvia (Jayme Lawson), her teen-age daughter, finally reunite with their husband and father after spending 17 years apart? Writer-director Ekwa Msangi could have chosen to look back at the woes that these immigrants have suffered in the past. But, instead, the trio is more concerned about whether they will be able to get over the awkwardness of their situation and be able to share a future together as a family.

As a storyteller, Msangi does something interesting after charismatic cab driver Walter (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine who oozes an elder sexy vibe), brings his spouse and child back to his small one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment. She splits up her narrative into thirds, allowing us to focus on each individual character’s story. We learn that Walter has been having a relationship with a nurse and is forcing himself to let go for the sake of his marriage. Sylvia, meanwhile, meets a boy at school who encourages her to sign up for a dance competition. As for Esther, she has grown increasingly more pious over the years as religion has become an anchor for her.

Secrets eventually come out, old habits must be broken and new ties to one another must be made. That it is the family’s shared love of music and dance in their lives that allow them to connect to one another is a clever way to forge bonds. Msangi finds a universal pathway to allow us to understand what this family is going through and how they manage to connect with one another. Of the three main characters, the charismatic Mwine with his sexy voice and moves is the standout while Joie Lee is a true joy as a sassy helpful neighbor who gives Esther some much needed advice.

Farewell Amor takes a different route than other tales about foreigners as they try to adapt to the lifestyle of the country we call home and nails it by making it specific as well as relatable to many people around the world at a time that those seeking to become citizens have been treated like animals and been demonized. If Walter’s family is typical of those who wish to find a better life, I say let’s bring them on.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Farewell Amor is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for December 11, 2020

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.