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After the death of her husband, Lilia's life revolves solely around her teenage daughter, Salma. Whilst looking for Salma late one night, Lilia stumbles upon a belly dance cabaret and though initially reserved and taken aback by the culture of the place, Lilia gets consistently drawn back to it. She befriends one of the belly dancers and is encouraged into dancing for the audience. Lilia also starts a romance with one of the cabaret's musicians, who unbeknown to both of them, is also romancing Salma. Written by
So few films from the Maghreb make it to USA screens, so see "Satin Rouge" for that alone: it's a rare chance to witness life in North Africa (in this case, Tunisia). There's an early morning cab ride through a charming, graceful Mediterranean cityscape and beach scenes that made me want to jump onto the Internet to research my next vacation - on the coast near Tunis. It was all far lovelier than I'd ever imagined.
Then there's the film itself. It offers a nicely-crafted, beautifully understated exposition of a shy widow's breaking out of her shell through the medium of traditional belly-dance, although the plot frog-leaps at times and the more literal-minded may be left wondering how certain developments came about. But the sensitive face of the actress who plays the lead role carries you over the spaces in the story.
The music is terrific - definitely an element in the film. Supporting cast (particularly the professional belly dancer) felt thoroughly authentic.
I found the mother-daughter relationship quite convincing, although if I were the daughter, I might have wondered where my mother was all those evenings! Worth seeing, particularly if you enjoy opening windows onto different cultures.
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