Mimosas centers around the epic voyage of an elderly sheikh’s caravan as they try to find their way through a stretch of Morocco’s seemingly insuperable Atlas Mountains. He wishes to return to the village of his birth, so that he may die where he was born. Unfortunately, death comes before the sheikh can arrive, and the rest of the caravan refuses to go on. Two strangers cross paths with them and offer to continue on with the sheikh’s body through the treacherous mountains. What motivates these men, and do they really know the way through the craggy mountain paths back to the sheikh’s village?
Oliver Laxe’s Mimosas, a Grand Prize winner at the 2016 Cannes Critics’ Week, has alternately been referred to as mystical travelogue and Sufi Western. Though each observation offers a glimpse of what the film is, no clever catchphrase can encapsulate this profound and arresting work. At the outset, some viewers will be reminded of other epic mountain crossings of cinema past. Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God or even Fitzcarraldo may come to mind. Tiny human dots move through breathtaking and impossibly treacherous mountain vistas. The caravan runs into all manner of obstacles of the human variety, too. As with Aguirre, Mimosas looks into the depths of human selfishness and desperation, but unlike Herzog’s irredeemable Aguirre, Laxe believes in the power of transformation for his characters; even though they are flawed and act poorly at times, there resides in them a desire to quench their spiritual thirst. On the surface, the film is about the physical journey of these men and the consequences of their actions, but the filmmaker is inviting the viewer to take a greater journey, a journey of perception and transformation, a journey of faith in the mysteries and magic of cinema. (Scott Braid)