Signature Move (Twist, Reel Q)

by Roger Walker-Dack

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday October 8, 2017

'Signature Move'
'Signature Move'  

With movies timing is everything, and it couldn't be more perfect in the case of "Signature Move," a deeply moving story of three "outsiders" trying to fit in today's world. They are all women (there is hardly a man in sight in the whole movie), and not just from different cultures but also dealing with such issues as being immigrants, lesbians, and female wrestlers, to boot.

Zaynab (Fawzia Mirza who also co-wrote the script) is a small-time immigration lawyer in suburban Chicago who has taken in her recently widowed Pakistani mother to live with her. The very conservative Parveen (Shabana Azmi) refuses to leave the house and spends her days with her binoculars pressed up against the window, checking out passers-by in the hopes of spotting a potential suitable husband for her daughter.

When one of her clients, who is a professional female wrestler, offers to pay Zaynab in lessons instead of cash, she jumps at the chance as a way of working out some of her frustration and excess energy. It also is a way to get her out of the house; even though her view on the world is miles apart from that of her mother, Zaynab is nevertheless a dutiful daughter who tries to appease her every whim.

Escaping one day to a bar, however, Zaynab gets hit on by Alma Sari Sanchez, a fiery Mexican who soon has her drunk on tequila shots and then in bed passionately making out. The next morning, however, it seems that this will probably never happen again, as both women are so different. It's not a question of nationalities and culture, but more the fact that openly gay Alma is the "love 'em and leave 'em" type, whereas the inexperienced Zaynab wants a relationship, even though she is still totally in the closet. Most of all, as Alma is quick to point out, it will not work out since Zaynab still has to fathom out what her signature move is!

The real joy of this deliciously entertaining new movie is that they all have such a definite joie de vivre about them. Their issues may be serious and all about finding out where they fit in today's world, but they are nevertheless imbued with a sense of humor too that encourages us to hope that they will find a way to overcome their problems. And who knew fierce women pounding each other in a wrestling ring could be part of the solution?

Directed by Jennifer Reeder and written by Lisa Donato and Fawzia Mirza, with compelling performances from the three lead women (and also from Audrey Francis, playing the wrestling coach, and Charin Alvarez as Alma's mother), this is bound to be a real crowd pleaser beyond the Film Festival circuit.

The only downside is that it makes you question the reality about what your own signature move actually is, and we are worried that we simply do not have one. Sad.

Appearing in the 2017 Twist Seattle Queer Film Festival. For tickets and more information:

Appearing in the 2017 Reel Q Film Festival. For tickets and more information:

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.