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Short summary

Aadid tells us his life in seven minutes. He's an Arabic-speaking young man working the night shift at a laundromat and dry cleaners somewhere in the United States. In the aftermath of 9/11, they wash U.S. flags for free. He says they get six or seven per day. He tells us about Napoleon's two wives: Marie Louise for an heir, Josephine for love. Aadid likes Adela, his co-worker. She's his Josephine. We watch Aadid and Adela hand wash the flags and put them in dryers. They fold them. They dance. They stand side by side outside the door of the laundromat looking at the dawn. Will this companionship become something more?

Director Barry Jenkins wrote this commentary for My Josephine (2003) on his Vimeo account: "My first short film, photography by James Laxton, as always. Still my favorite. Written shortly after 9/11, wasn't actually made for another year because of the way things shook out in school. Inspired by three things: the marquee of a Tallahassee laundromat shortly after 9/11 reading "American Flags Cleaned Free," an image in my head of two people sitting atop folding tables, and my housemate at the time being obsessed with Napoleon. We were very young men when we made this film."

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Eseve
    The quiet, unassuming poetry of Barry Jenkins' short film "My Josephine" has the ability to deeply resonate with viewers in a big way, especially if they're not used to this kind of filmmaking. For somebody like me, who makes an effort to watch films all over the globe and to immerse myself in every style from mainstream to impressionistic, "My Josephine"'s style isn't something wholly uncommon for me. However, it doesn't mean that the film doesn't do a beautiful job at articulating the style of somber and metaphorical. The short would make a lovely introduction to those unfamiliar with cinematic styles often used by foreign films or even the style of film known as "mumblecore," which I've come to so heavily praise and support.

    The short concerns Aadid (Basal Hamdan), an Arabic-speaking man who works the night shift at a local laundromat and dry cleaners in America alongside the beautiful Adela (Saba Shariat). Aadid narrates the short, describing how, in the aftermath of 9/11, they are committed to washing American flags for free, to which they get about six or seven each day. Aadid goes on to tell us about Napoleon Bonaparte, who we assume is either an influence of his or somebody who greatly reminds him of himself. He tells us about Napoleon's two wives, one of them named Josephine. Aadid considers Adela his "Josephine," and we see a deep feeling of contentment flourish inside of him as he stands next to her over the laundromat sink to clean off American flags.

    Director Barry Jenkins assumes a sense of careful, precise lyricism in his direction of "My Josephine." It's a kind of lyricism that isn't too invasive in its meanings, or too driven by metaphoric interpretation, actively preventing in the film being observed and studied through a lens of naturalism. Hamdan and Shariat are watchable, even when given pretty basic things for actors to do, and the most commendable thing about the film besides its soft and nimble direction is the sound mixing and cinematography of the short, which Jenkins clearly put a lot of thought and effort behind. "My Josephine" may not be the most memorable short I've seen in the long term, but it bears a whirlwind of aesthetic accomplishments that shouldn't go unnoticed.

    Starring: Basal Hamdan and Saba Shariat. Directed by: Barry Jenkins.
  • comment
    • Author: CopamHuk
    I watched this film from the DVD that comes with a screen writing book I bought from my local Kinokuniya bookstore.

    It is my favorite amongst the films in the DVD.

    The cinematography is superb.

    The sound design and music is equally well crafted.

    Above all, everything compliments the story perfectly.

    It is a very simple but well-crafted story, and the film has a poetic touch to it, both visually and metaphorically.

    It's a film you could watch over and over without getting bored.

    If you can get a copy, I highly recommend you watch it.

    It has to be 9 out of 10 for me!
  • comment
    • Author: Jonariara
    This movie is...WOW! Barry Jenkins is pure GENIUS. Incredible sense of tone and story. I look forward to witnessing his undoubted cinematic future.
  • comment
    • Author: MeGa_NunC
    "My Josephine" is an American short film from 2003, so this one will have its 15th anniversary next year. The writer and director is Barry Jenkins and of course you all know him now thanks to "Moonlight". This one here is one of his earlier (possibly his earliest) works as he was just in his early 20s when it came out. Conflict between different cultures is a subject in here as the focus is on language, nationality and belonging. This is the story of two people who work at a launderette and who are frequently busy with cleaning American flags after a terrible historical event. There is a bit of a (potential) love story between the two, but it is all very vague. I guess Jenkin' mostly wanted to show his craft through metaphors and symbolisms here. But I would not say it really worked out in terms of the plot. Acting's a bit stale too. The direction is pretty good at times and the talent is easily visible for a man his age back then. No surprise he really delivered now with his first full feature film after lots of experience with short films. This one here is only 8 minutes long (including 1 minute of credits) and most of the language is Arabic, so you may need subtitles to see this one. I think for a young aspiring filmmaker, it's an okay work, but by overall standards not a success and I have to give it a thumbs-down. I think Jenkins can live with that in the face of his most recent achievement.
  • Cast overview:
    Basel Hamdan Basel Hamdan - Aadid
    Saba Shariat Saba Shariat - Adela
    Marc Levi Marc Levi - Customer
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