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Girl Power

It's a family affair when widowed, repressed Lilia (Hiyam Abbas) and her spunky daughter Salma (Hend El Fahem) just can't get enough of a suave drummer, Chokri (Maher Kamoun). This bold and lyrical first feature from Raja Amari expands the pat notion that middle-aged women just wanna have fun into a rousing treatise of sensual empowerment. Abbas is magnetic as Lilia, trapped in a dire rut until she explores a cabaret of raqs sharqi--or belly dancing--where the robust dancer Folla (Monia Hichri) takes her under her bouncing, bulbous wings and teaches her to fly. The nuances of the performances--in dialogue and dance--and the rich, organic feel of the locations mark Amari as a director of significant promise. Her stridently feminist tone is a little iffy, though, from random derision against blondes to a very presumptuous leap of logic about male behavior. That aside, it's strong work, so let's hope Hollywood plans a few remakes and she gets to do it again.


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