When Harri Met Salma
Drama/Romance, 10 min 42 sec
Log line: A Muslim woman torn between two worlds defies family expectations to take charge of her life.
just the right balance of angst, romance, and fluff
When Harri Met Salma is the charming Australian queer love story that you always wanted! A clever play on the title for the well-known 1989 classic rom-com When Harry Met Sally—kudos to writer Sanja Katich (a former Lesflicks volunteer!), and director Corey Booth. The writing and characters themselves are executed so well that it almost feels like real-life people going through a very common situation for queer people, right in front of your eyes. The two lovebirds, Harri and Salma, are played by Teresa Moore and Mia Morrissey. Their loving glances and giddy smiles leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside, but ultimately you come to see the truth: Salma must keep Harri a secret from her traditional Middle Eastern family.
I love the delightful opening shot of the two women waking up next to each other in Harri’s bed. It lends to the sweet, young love romance that all rom-coms should have. But like Cinderella, Salma must leave and return home before the clock strikes twelve, much to Harri’s disappointment. She even rebukes Salma’s kiss goodbye, but they make plans to meet up again soon. With Salma, you are left wondering if there is something more than meets the eye. Is she hiding her relationship with Harri? Or does she just not have the freedom necessary to be out and proud with her girlfriend?
If you don’t know anything about how women are treated in Middle Eastern society or you want a peek into their world, Salma’s first scene with her brother Farward will tell you all you need to know. He acts as a father figure or chaperone of sorts, living with his sister to supervise her and ensure she stays in line. His attempts to push the Middle Eastern tradition of arranged relationships onto her are met with defiant resistance. Even though Salma refuses to allow herself to be set up with a strange man she does not know, she still abides by her culture by keeping her hijab on—a traditional habit, if not expectation, for most Middle Eastern women. It’s clear to see that she struggles with staying true to her culture and also staying true to herself.
You feel for both Harri and Salma and their respective plights—Harri feels like a scandalous secret, and Salma can’t express her sexuality freely or be open about their relationship. What impresses me (and hurts my little gay heart) is Harri’s loyalty to Salma and her feelings for her—she even turns down a bombshell asking her to dance at a queer club. And when Salma shows up at the same club, you can practically feel her nervousness and relief as she clutches Harri’s hands like a lifeline, like she was drowning and Harri was her long-awaited breath of air. I found it a clever parallel to have Salma also turn away from Harri’s kiss, a nice switch from the beginning scene. I love how many layers there are to Salma’s character and her struggles. With “It’s hard enough just walking through the door”, she expresses, in maybe the best way she knows how, her trepidation and anxiety at just being in a queer space, a space meant for her. Can you imagine feeling like you’re not allowed to exist in or visit these spaces, because you might be judged or your family will find out? As a queer Middle Eastern woman myself, I definitely can relate to her predicament. However, the angst is minimal in this scene, and Salma ends up dancing with Harri and her friends.
Soon enough, Farwad puts his foot down and decides to chaperone Salma for her outings, which leads to her missing a party that Harri is hosting, for fear of him discovering her secret. Essentially confined to her room, Salma’s quiet despair is felt through the screen. Her fears of losing Harri and disappointing her family come to a head, and she must make a choice.
This triumphant love story will steal my heart no matter how many times I watch it. My only wishes for this film would be to make it longer or maybe turn it into a feature, and to get a better look into Salma’s journey with coming out and accepting herself. In regards to the length, I personally would love to see a sequel feature film of Harri’s and Salma’s happily ever after. But at the same time, I understand that for lesbian and queer film productions, most of the time, the obstacle is primarily funding. Which is why I’m so grateful that amazing films like this one exist on the Lesflicks platform and provide more opportunities for the filmmakers to create their next projects. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would pay to see the love story of these two women continue! I highly recommend When Harri Met Salma to any rom-com fans or LBTQ+ women who just want to see other cultures represented. It has just the right balance of angst, romance, and fluff—and lucky for you, you can watch it right now, as many times as you want. Just click here.
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Written By Karen Frost
Karen is an armchair pop culture pundit and blogger who has written hundreds of articles for AfterEllen, WhatAboutDat, and several other LGBT blogs. She is also a writer whose fourth novel for Ylva Publishing will be released in April.