The Blue Caftan movie

The Blue Caftan Movie Review

Halim (Saleh Bakri) and Mina (Lubna Azabal) run a traditional caftan shop in one of Morocco’s oldest medinas. Halim is an expert maalem (dressmaker), but his skills are waning as machine embroidery becomes more cost-effective and time-efficient.

To keep up with their demanding customers, they hire an accomplished young man as an apprentice: Youssef. As Mina watches him work, it becomes evident how much her husband is touched by his presence.

Halim (Saleh Bakri) and Mina (Lubna Azabal)

In one of Morocco’s oldest medinas, master caftan tailor Halim (Saleh Bakri) and his wife Mina (Lubna Azabal) craft and sell bespoke caftans. The couple is dedicated to their craft and upholds its long-held tradition of meticulous stitching.

This film examines the love and commitment between a husband and wife in the face of terminal illness and increasing financial strain. It takes an intimate and empathetic look at homosexuality and marriage in a country which criminalizes same-sex relationships.

Halim and Youssef (Ayoub Missioui), a gay man, begin a new chapter in their daily routines. Their slow stitching sessions become intimate moments; long takes show them holding a spool of golden thread or pair of scissors as they share an eroticized connection.

Veteran Bakri and newcomer Azabal deliver nuanced performances that leave no emotion unsaid. Together they create an incredibly tender, warm relationship which subverts expectations at almost every turn. The Blue Caftan is a powerful and enlightening film.

Youssef (Ayoub Missioui)

Halim and Mina’s lives take an interesting turn when Youssef, a young man, enters their caftan business to catch up on orders. He has been trained in maalem tradition – an ancient form of dressmaking which forgoes machine embroidery for traditional handwork.

At first, Youssef is a quiet apprentice who pays close attention to Halim’s delicate instructions. His keen sense of craftsmanship makes him an invaluable addition to both the older men’s teams, as well as being an ideal complement for Halim’s own development as a maalem.

But as the film progresses, Youssef develops into more than just an apprentice. He takes an active role in running the shop and doing household tasks for Halim and Mina; this enables him to spend more time with his wife as she ages and needs extra care.

Maryam Touzani

Writer-director Maryam Touzani’s elegant human dramas possess a delicate sensuality, similar to the delicate craftsmanship of traditional textile-making. Her debut film Adam (TIFF 2019) explored single motherhood – another taboo subject in Morocco – and she continues this theme with her second feature The Blue Caftan, which won the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section in 2022.

Touzani and cinematographer Virginie Surdej let the camera linger as Halim (Lubna Azabal) and his wife Mina (Touzani) craft their signature caftans at their shop in Istanbul. Unlike more modern competitors, these artisans still do their work by hand but it appears that this craft is being lost to machine technology.

As Youssef (Ayoub Missioui), the couple’s oldest and most dedicated apprentice, makes his way into their lives, we begin to understand the depth of their love for one another. Even as Mina’s health declines, they remain committed to each other. The Blue Caftan is an unexpectedly warm story that defies expectations at almost every turn.


The Blue Caftan movie follows the tale of a middle-aged couple who own and operate a caftan store in one of Morocco’s oldest medinas. When they hire an apprentice, his presence disrupts their routine.

Halim (Saleh Bakri) and Mina (Lubna Azabal) have been partners in their caftan shop for many years, building a close bond based on mutual affection and the dedication to detail that goes into each job.

But Mina’s illness and the arrival of an accomplished young man (Ayoub Missioui) threaten to disrupt their delicate balance. In her second feature film after winning a FIPRESCI prize in Cannes Un Certain Regard section, writer/director Maryam Touzani crafts exquisite human dramas grounded in traditional trades.

Touzani’s work focuses on the small moments that shape our daily lives. She captures the delicate nature of characters’ interactions and their unspoken yet deeply felt attraction in a film that serves as an exquisite tribute to love.