The director makes an attempt to locate herself, because historical erosions in society and politics have led to an identity crisis for Cléo Cohen, a young Frenchwoman. Is she Arab? Jewish? She struggles for clarification, aided by her grandparents, who all emigrated from the Maghreb to France as Jews. The questioning is playful, but determined. Cléo awakens memories, confronts, muses in the bathtub.
Cléo wants to find out from her grandmother Flavie whether she’s “sedje”, able to marry. Flavie reacts evasively. Her sister would definitely be, Flavie thinks, and Cléo, too, knows roughly how to go about things. But she doesn’t seem entirely convinced. Cléo Cohen is in the middle of a process of discovery. Her grandparents play a role in this. While some came to France as Algerian Jews, others relocated from the neighbouring country of Tunisia, also as Jews. Cléo is confused. Denise’s native tongue, for example, is Arabic, she knows Arabic cuisine, but she’s not an Arab? Cléo talks to everyone, shoulders her way briskly but warmly into the past. She reads the writings of Albert Memmi, who grew up in Tunis as the son of Jewish parents under French colonial rule; she listens to Philippe Katerine’s song “Juifs arabes”. She travels to Tunisia.