Dounia, a teenager living in the slums and her friend Maimouna start working for Rebecca, a successful drug dealer in order to escape their poverty. Her meeting with Djigui, a sexy dancer, makes things complicated, but leaving Rebecca is not easy..Written by
The director, like the main character, wants success. And she did it. Only by opening the door out not the door in. She got the big prize. And that is about it. The bureaucratic machine has eaten her whole. Don't get me wrong. I hope I am wrong.
I have seen comments about the rush ending. The ending is not rushed. It is a natural consequence. And the whole script is made following a opera or simple drama. Only both classical drama and the opera are the ways white Europeans see as the highest refinement in entertainment. The film was made to please the eyes and the minds of old f*rts that fill the juries and the commissions that are specialized in turning the taxpayer money into alms for those who know how to please.
There are social statements, but they are void and not offensive, like the small exercise in accountancy at the beginning: "how much you make? 1000? The rent is 800. Pay the food and at the end of the month you have nothing." It is true. It is said. Yet it says nothing about the system. Police brutality is never touched. And the final confrontation with the cops is a ballet rehearsal.
I have loved how expressive and full of life Oulaya Amamra can be. But her character has a split personality. In a country where when you can boil an egg on the asphalt the women still wear a bra and two tank tops, she can go to a club with no bra and a generous cleavage. She can in one scene have a hard time coping with the promiscuity of her mother pointing out her decision to fight that, and in another scene go lure a violent man with sex.
In the end there is no story. What does the character want? That's easy. Money. But money to do what? And here is where the director-writer fails. All these are stock characters from television. The youngster with no future. The girls who sell a vagina hoping for the better. The opportunist drug peddler. The unfit mother who god forbid has sex with more than her lawfully given husband and does not read books on parenting. All these are silhouettes on TV. And the story is not on screen but in the white old man's mind, the one who handles the taxpayer money. Sure, there are drugs in the movie. But these are only a device. The stereotype of the easy money. The drugs are not escapism from the ugly world outside, as there is no ugly world outside. The high rise building is only the backdrop to remind the viewer of the 5 o'clock news.
It could have been a 100 minutes story on a budget with only Oulaya Amamra, Déborah Lukumuena and Jisca Kalvanda. Without state money it could have been done precisely a decade ago when the director's association was made. But that association is another way to make a living dancing with the state and tearing the stories apart while moving from place to place to please white old men in power. Of course Cannes wouldn't have looked at such films. But who knows? In that dreamt reality 2016 would have been the production year of a third or even a fourth feature movie on a budget.
Yamina Benguigui has started much better. Stronger films, more accessible stories. And today she is yet another bureaucrat managing other people's money. She has more than one boss and she has to please to receive the money she hands down. Her last work was for TV and that was 7 years ago. And she is not the only one eaten by the machine.
A sad broken story made into a ladder.
Contact me with Questions, Comments or Suggestions ryitfork @ bitmail.ch
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