The arrival of a box filled detailing a woman’s previous life, completely unknown to her daughter, is thinning of a compelling journey into the past.
It’s Christmas Eve in a snowy Montreal and while Maia (Rim Turki) is with her lover, her daughter Alex (Paloma Vauthier) and mother Téta (Clémence Sabbagh) accept the delivery of a package that is soon revealed to be a trove of letters, diaries, mixtapes and photos detailing Maia’s past in Beirut. Alex knows nothing of her mother’s youth in Lebanon. Unbeknown to Maia, Alex begins sifting through the box to discover the life of someone she realises she barely knows.
Divided between the present, where the friction between three generations of women is palpable, and a past, before the 1982 Lebanon War, when Maia envisaged a very different future for herself, Memory Box articulately and movingly explores the histories we try to keep hidden from the world. Employing an array of techniques to conjure up Alex’s impression of 1980s Beirut, alongside more straightforward moments that Maia remembers, filmmakers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige conjure up an impressive drama that highlights how the past, no matter how hard we attempt to hide it, will always catch up with us.