Unsatisfied with her life in England, young mother Julia relocates to Morocco with her small daughters, Lucy and Bea. Although the family enjoys various adventures, they struggle to make end... Read allUnsatisfied with her life in England, young mother Julia relocates to Morocco with her small daughters, Lucy and Bea. Although the family enjoys various adventures, they struggle to make ends meet.Unsatisfied with her life in England, young mother Julia relocates to Morocco with her small daughters, Lucy and Bea. Although the family enjoys various adventures, they struggle to make ends meet.
It would be so easy for a film with such a subject to fall into the trap of using the 'orient' as merely a backdrop to depict fun backpackers engaging in pseudo-spiritual experiments. Or, on the other hand, take a more malevolent track of exploiting the bad feeling between Europeans and Arabs by having the bright young Julia encounter the traditional savage, woman-hating Arab as depicted in most western films, and pioneered by Valentino in Hollywood's silent classic The Sheik (1921).
However Hideous Kinky is refreshing as it is fun and 'exotic', but does not compromise in its sense of responsibility. It attempts to show an intelligent, though wayward, young mother with the genuine desire to explore her self internally, and captures the richness and humanity of the country and its people around her, exhibiting their interesting religious life and culture.
The feel of place in the film is astonishing. Marrakech, with the narrow streets and courtyards of its old town, dark and forbidding, but also revealing wonder, and the surrounding desert, are filmed deliciously with ambition and assurance. Julia, as well as being part of the 'drop out' European expat community, finds herself accessing different strands of Moroccan society, the common society of Morocco via her relationship with Bilal, a shady character who turns out to be a convict, played wonderfully by Said Taghmaoui, and the higher rungs via her ex-husband's friend, Santoni.
Central to the film- and what also complicates it, giving it an added, new dimension- is Julia's relationship with her two children, played astoundingly well by Bella Riza and Carrie Mullan. They, in turn, have their own incredible experiences, good and bad, as shown by their delightful but confused sayings. Julia, unusually in film, is a complex female character with many shades. She is naïve, foolish and irresponsible. At one point, she even manages to lose one of her daughters. But she is also smart, soulful and canny, and from her time in Morrocco, Julia does gain an insight into her self, but it is not the insight that she expected, and perhaps it is a genuine insight for that reason. She is played by Kate Winslet with characteristic heart and intelligence, and a brave choice as she had just come off the safety of the glitzy but vacuous blockbuster, Titanic.
Hideous Kinky is a rare thing- despite being government financed, usually the kiss of death for a British film, it is a refreshing and responsible film about an unconventional encounter between European and Arab.
- Oct 5, 2007