Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Hiam Abbass, Hend El Fahem, Maher Kamoun, Monia Hichri, Faouzia Badr
Director: Raja Amari
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Special Interests, Musicals & Performing Arts
A Tunisian widow takes an unlikely journey of self-discovery in Raja Amari's sumptuous and sensual SATIN ROUGE. While investigating a suspected liaison between her headstrong teenaged daughter and a cabaret musician, Lilia... more »
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Some things I just felt like saying about "Satin"
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Lilia, a widowed mother, endures a painfully lonely and boring life in modern-day Tunisia. Her empty existence (punctuated by infrequent visits from extended family members, and nearly as infrequent interludes with her daughter, Salmah) involves little more than keeping her apartment neat and tidy - you'd almost think she were a ghost who'd forgotten she was no longer alive. That is...until the sounds of her TV and her busy city are suddenly drowned out by an Arabic song - an Arabic crooner, some chords of an oud and the beat of a drum - and Lilia gives briefly herself to the music. Mostly, Lilia worries about Salmah - a blossoming young woman whom Lilia realizes is hiding something. At first thinking the secret is a new boyfriend, Lilia finds Salmah in bellydancing classes, and begins to think that the secret is not a new boyfriend (like the admirer who plays Darabouka in Salmah's classes) but a new job working the floors of some seedy cabaret. In search of Salmah, Lilia sneaks into the nearest smoke-filled cabaret, finding, not Salmah nor any of the younger girls with whom Salmah shared her time or her dancing. Over-glammed up, with costumes to match, the dancers of "Satin Rouge" are more like glamorous variations on Lilia - Past their prime, older than they could be and still hope to turn their art into stardom. They will never be confused with those dancers made famous in decades of Arabic movies - but once on the floor, the Women of "Satin Rouge" make up for it on gallons of unleaded oomph - following the darabouka beat (played by the same boy who sets the rhythm at Salmah's classes and, ironically enough really is her boyfriend). Immediately befriended by the other dancers, Lilia remains aloof at first, but also entranced, following a path guaranteed to bring her to the floor as the new star. At first volunteering to sew costumes for other dancers, she's caught by her new friends trying one of them on - giving her friends all the excuse they need to "unveil" her to their world. In a sensual surprise, Lilia can move, but does so artlessly (the gruff boss says she has movement, but no art). Still, in the smoky backroom that is the cabaret, she proves popular enough to be kept on until she can refine her foot & hip work. Forgetting most of her worries about Salmah (now that she has a secret of her own) Lilia begins a double life - housewife by day, cabaret star at night. In the movie's running joke, Lilia assumes the existence she had imagined for Salmah, yet continues to chide the younger girl for coming home way after midnight - Salmah having no idea that her mother had only returned a short time earlier. As the story progresses, Lilia will blossom and find a way to enjoy her life.To get the most of "Satin Rouge", you must remember what the movie is not - it's not meant to judge Lilia as much as mark how she changes. "Satin" says little about women in the near-east (filmed in liberal Tunis, the movie shows us openly affectionate and un-veiled women walking the streets of their city, sometimes alone or at night - Kabul it's not). Though Lilia's life is clearly unfulfilled, little in the script clarifies the comparative strength of men, since there are so few male characters, and few really do anything that really drives the story. Though focused on bellydancers, "Satin" doesn't judge or clarify what the dance really means - fitting neither Hollywood's ideal (in which gauzy-dressed girls danced for men) nor the neo-feminist perspective (which - despite glittery and revealing costumes, unabashedly sensual movements and the secondary status endured by women in those countries identified with the dance - still views the dance as an art form and entertainment for women that empowers them and traces its origins to cultures dominated by them). While "Satin" says little about the cultural merits of the east and west, it does get its point across - contrasting the misery Lilia endures while a western-style TV soap opera blares through her apartment, against the liberated passions she feels whenever a song with a good beat comes over the radio. Lilia enjoys the dance because it is the only thing she can do that people seem to enjoy (her dancing friends aside everybody hates her sewing, and nobody's interested in her cooking). Nor is "Satin" about how beautiful you can become when you pull yourself out of your shell - played by Hiam Abbas, Lilia is at least as attractive as her new friends at the outset (if plainly so). When first entering the cabaret - still very much the cloistered and house-dressed widow approaching mid-age - the men swarm over her, undistracted by the performing dancers. "Satin" is best viewed as the story of a woman who already has power and beauty, but seems lost to the world until she finds the right beat."
So this is why belly dancers are sometimes called "The Flowe
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 06/16/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie started off somewhat languidly, and lulls you into a sleepy mood but then picks up towards the middle. This Tunisian movie portrays the woman as liberated from the traditions, religion, and social conformism, as opposed to women in some other Arabic/Muslim countries. People might think this country is located in the Middle East but is in North Africa.
What makes "Satin Rouge" an adorable film is that Director Amari uses the belly-dancing element to explore the prevailing social values and to comment on the emotional numbness of modern life. Hiam Abbass as Lilia is a beautiful lady whose appearance and character grows as she goes out at night. The sets and the costume are well placed, and the dance scenes are a pleasure to the eye. The plot of the romance is well developed, as it takes twists and turns before it irons itself out.
This film had kept my interest and could have gone either two ways. It could have ended either comically or tragically. There are certainly laughs along the way, but in a nervous way. In any case, "Satin Rouge" does offer a pleasurable dance into another culture that just might appeal to you.
Review from a student and enthusiast of Mid Eastern Dance
Jenny J.J.I. | 06/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Where to start? For a movie I have been waiting to watch for well over a year, I must first say that I was not disappointed. What was the theme? Was it about a belly dancer, or was it about a widowed mother rediscovering life itself? Despite my obsession and often single visioned approach to things - the belly dancing itself was just a setting to frame the larger story.
What happens, when all you've lived for is slipping out of your hands. Widowed with a daughter grown, and ready to leave; Existing within a society where both men and women are a constant pressure and discouragement towards a woman's independence in life, the future may indeed look grim.
Lillia, by accident, stumbles across the nightlife in the caberets - a place where no respected woman would dare go. Why? She originally suspected her daughter of being there with one of the musicians when she did not come home that night. Instead, she found a whole new world. Shocked at first by the smokey atmosphere, bold dancers, and loud audience, she tried to stay away from it... but the friendship of the main dancer, and the allure of the night life itself beckoned to her caged spirit.
By accident she found herself actually dancing one night, encouraged by the rhythm from the darbouka and the clapping and enthusiastic response of the local audience. Her next evening there, she was once again lured out to the floor to dance, though reluctant at first. The playful, flirtatious drum beats egged her on, as did the dancers who came up to help her find the beat. With the applause and praise of the audience, something within broke free, and she lost herself to the wild excited joy of the dance.
After that evening she was theirs. She took happiness in her new found friendship and reawakened sensuality, though she couldn't let those in her day time life know, for it wasn't a respectable way for a woman. She began to give her daughter more freedom to grow, and started also to give more notice of her own appearance... a new pair of heels, a new hair cut. She began to take on a more youthful appearance, reflecting the inward changes of her soul.
I can't say much more about the story without giving away too much more. But needless to say, I greatly enjoyed watching it and would recommend it to all of my women friends. That's another point - though there is a male character that is key to the entire movie (the darbouka player).. there is very little speech from the men... Why? It's a story about a woman. Men might play a part, but they are not the focus.
I would also place a warning for two things.. 1 is simple... It's subtitled, even in DVD format, and 2, some viewers may be offended or put off by some parts of the movie. It is well worth it though, so please, if you have it available to rent or borrow or buy - watch it!"
A must for all belly dancers
Michele Moreau | Whitehorse, Yukon Territory Canada | 10/23/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It was great to see an authentic belly dancing story. I'm a bellydancer who has over five years of performing experience, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to see a Tunesian story about a belly dancer. Unfortunately, the film confirmed my suspicion that belly dancers in the Middle East are what strippers are to the West. It is clear early in the film that a "respectable" woman wouldn't belly dance, and the many scenes in the cabaret confirm my analogy is correct. In the final scene, the middle-aged heroine is looking foolish as she belly dances desperately to seek attention. I was expecting a story of feminine empowerment, and I got the opposite. As well, I was expecting great dance scenes, and again I got the opposite. As far as the story goes, the film's director underestimates the viewers' intelligence.That said, it would be absolutely crazy for any belly dancer to pass this movie up. Authentic dancing in its native cultural setting is something so few of us ever get to experience. It's worth it just for that education. Although it wasn't what I hoped for, it was engaging and entertaining, and the music was great. Finally, the subtitles were well displayed and easy to read."