Non-judgemental, true-to-life portrait of a radicalised teenager
Layla (played brilliantly by the talented El Koussour in her debut role) is a teenager of Moroccan heritage. Like most adolescents, she is eager for life, quick-witted and short-sighted. She is irritated by the negative image of Moroccans and the Islamic faith. At home she has discussions about this and she rebels increasingly against the liberal views of her parents and classmates. She lives with a permanent sense of never feeling entirely at home.
Then she meets the deeply religious Abdel who seems to be the only person who understands her. She falls for the bait, falls in love and together they travel first to Belgium and eventually to the Middle East. She yearns for a place she has never had, and never will have.
Layla M. is a highly courageous, topical film. Braving the predictable accusations of naivety, Director Meike de Jong has made a film that adopts Layla’s perspective throughout. No judgements are passed, nor are mitigating circumstances offered. But by the end, we do have a better understanding of Layla.