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A young American woman is kidnapped by an Arabian sheik and held captive in his harem. At first she frantically tries to escape, but as they slowly get to know and appreciate each other the difference between captor and captive dissolves. Written by
Homme A. Piest <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I'm not sure whether Harem is too subtle for its own good, or if it simply fails to adequately get its point(s) across even to clever audiences accustomed to subtle storytelling. I'm not so sure I'm clever enough myself to decide that, you see. To pick up on all the (plentiful) symbolism and accurately interpret it. Certain plot twists at the very end lead me to believe, however, that perhaps I shouldn't give the creators too much credit.
However, whatever its failings (or mine), Harem is certainly a thought provoking movie. Don't let the title and the bare skin fool you; the last thing Harem is about is sexuality in any way, shape or form. I can't say for certain what it is about, but it made me consider, among other things, loneliness, and whether its an inescapable part of the human condition in any society. It made me consider the passing of time; change; permanence. The constraints culture and society place on the individual. Whether people ever really connect. Other things I've yet to grasp well enough to verbalise.
This is a fascinating movie. Difficult to watch at times, and at other times mesmerising. Ugly, and beautiful, the way humanity is ugly and beautiful. It will not appeal to those who like their world neat and well-defined.
Confused by this attempt at a review? Well, consider it an indication of what to expect from the movie. I would not be reviewing something I understood this poorly, if I did not feel that other reviewers understood it even less than I did. This is not a love story. At least, it is not a story of romantic or sexual love. Nor is it some perverted fantasy put to film, as some would have it. It's a semi-successful examination of what it is to be human.
In my opinion, it's well worth seeing, but only for the curious, the philosophically inclined, the introspective, the in-the-mood-y. The ones willing to be left without any answers at the end. Folks looking for easy entertainment, romance, or sexy exotic whatever, look elsewhere.
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