Hideous Kinky journeys back to the early 1970s to Marrakesh, that hippy mecca for everyone from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix to Gillies MacKinnon, the director of this movie. Here you'll find one nice but confused middle-... more »class young woman escaping the daily grind of a drab London with her two young daughters in tow. Whereas Esther Freud's book was told from the younger girl's perspective, the film-script places Julia centre-stage as she searches for what she describes wistfully as "the annihilation of the ego." Though fresh from her Titanic experience, Kate Winslet is no drippy hippy, bringing a refreshing feistiness to her role and looking fetching swathed in diaphanous layers. As her two daughters, Bella Riza (Bea, the wide-eyed younger one) and Carrie Mullan (Lucy, the sensible one) are brilliant discoveries--unselfconscious, charmingly quirky, and enjoying a camaraderie that belies their difference in characters. Completing the family unit is Julia's lover, the endearingly unreliable Bilal (a fiery performance from Saïd Taghmaoui). When the money runs out, their adventures begin and the resilience and practicality of the girls is contrasted throughout with the dreaminess of their mother, her sense of duty vying with her quest for self-discovery. Visually, it's a veritable feast as we're pitched from the color and cacophony of the marketplace to the dusty harshness of the mountains. And that elusive title--which is never explained in the film--is in fact a phrase coined by the girls as a term of approbation. --Harriet Smith« less
"Off-beat, original, and a masterpiece. That is Hideous Kinky in a nutshell. Kate Winslett was once an actress I held in contempt for that horrid movie Titanic. Since then, however, she has redeemed herself. Playing most notably, Ophelia in Branagh's Hamlet, and the delightfully sinful cousin in the adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel Jude. This movie is no exception. Here she plays an English expatriate living in Moracco. She has taken her two small children and the three of them live in poverty waiting on the next check from the children's careless father, who is a poet in England. As Winslett continues her neverending seach for inner enlightenment and her obsession with the sufi, she becomes as neglectful to the children as their father is. It is a tale about a woman who desires freedom, but is torn by responsibility.Supporting Winslet is an excellent cast of unknows. Playing her love interest, Bilal, is Saïd Taghmaoui, who handles his role excellently. Perhaps most impressive are the two little girls. Older Bea, who just wants to be normal, is played by Bella Riza. Carrie Mullan is younger Lucy, who is still trying to understand what her wild life means.Director Gillies MacKinnon does a wonderful job of portraying the foreign landscape and capturing the overall feel of Moracco. Based on the novel by Esther Freud (yes, she is in the direct lineage of old Siggy) this movie is not a typical flick, which is what makes it so nice. A refreshing break from the run-of-the-mill Hollywood movie, this may be the best movie the world never saw."
QUIRKY AND ABSORBING FILM...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 06/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a wonderful film with stellar performances by the entire cast. It is about a young woman's quest for the meaning of life. Taking place in the early 1970s, it is very reminiscent of an era now passed, an era when "flower power" was the rule of the day. Here, Kate Winslet plays Julia, a twenty five year old young mother of two children, nine year old Bea, stunningly acted by Bella Riza, and her younger sister, Lucy, charmingly played by Carrie Mullen. They abandon their structured, staid life in London, when Julia decides to leave their father to go to Marrakech in Morocco, then the capitol of the disaffected, in search of spiritual enlightenment.Taking her children, Julia goes on an adventure, an adventure to which Lucy, the younger of her two daughters, takes to almost immediately. Nine year old Bea, on the other hand, begins to yearn for a more "normal", structured life. Julia, however, will have none of it. Living in a Moroccan slum with her girls, she romanticizes their existence. Julia becomes involved with Bilal, a street performer of sorts, who looks out for them. Wonderfully acted by Said Taghemaoui, Bilal charms Julia and her daughters. He cannot, however, support them, and they cannot support themselves. This becomes clear as they begin a rag tag journey into the Moroccan country side. Sooner, rather than later, reality sets in. The adventure wears thin on Bea who becomes estranged from her mother. The harsh reality of every day life confronts Julia, who ultimately realizes that traipsing around Morocco just puts her young daughters at risk. Unfortuntely, this realization does not occur to her until she almost loses Bea to illness. It is then that Bilal steps up to home plate and gives them the means to return. They leave Marrakech to begin their journey home, taking with them enough memories to last a lifetime.This is a wonderful movie with exceptional cinematography. A virtual travelogue of Moroccan life, it is a visual feast that is sure to delight those who have a hankering for faraway, exotic places and a thirst for adventure."
A woman finds herself in Morocco trying to find herself
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/25/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Hideous Kinky" is based on an autobiographical novel by Esther Freud (Sigmund's great-granddaughter, not that this means anything in terms of the story) and stars Kate Winslet as Julia, a young British woman who has traveled to Marrakech in 1972 with her two young daughters in tow, 8-year old Bea (Bella Riza) and 6-year old Lucy (Carrie Mullan). Julia seems to be living in this exotic world because is a truth-seeker, but she is also running away from her life in London, where she caught her "husband" (i.e., the man who fathered her children), cheating on her. He is supposed to be sending them checks and care passages from home, but what usually happens is that the checks never arrive or are less than expected while the packages are intended for his "other" family.
This film holds us at a distance because the perspective is not so much that of the mother as it is of the daughters. Conveniently one of them is game for being dragged around a foreign land while the other becomes rebellious. The world does seemed turned upside down when a young girl tells her hippie mother: "I don't need another adventure, Mom. I need to go to school. I need to learn things." Julia wants to understand Sufi philosophy and find inner peace. Her daughters would like to taste rice pudding again (every time the older one has something to say the younger one announces the fact).
It is not so much that the movie condemns Julia as it is that it fails to understand her, largely because she clearly does not understand herself. Throughout the film director Gillies MacKinnon uses familiar songs by the likes of Jefferson Airplane and Richie Havens to substitute for action and to provide the film with the appropriate vibe. If these songs are being played loudly then what Julia is doing in a strange land with her children must be a good thing because these are good songs.
Yet we come to the conclusion that this what matters here in the end is not going to be a quest for enlightenment but simply the effort by Julia to get out of Morocco alive with both of her girls. However the crucial factor in this appears to be neither Julia nor the Europeans with whom she has some connections in Morocco, but Bilal (Said Taghamoui), a street performer who may be running from the policy and who becomes not only Julia's lover but a father figure of sorts to the girls. He may be a rogue, but he is a charming one and we have reason to believe that he cares about these women, even if he is ultimately powerless to help them.
In the end "Hideous Kinky" is more about people and a place more than anything else. The performances, including Winslet's first after the mega-success of "Titanic," are certainly solid enough. But memorable moments in this film are more likely to be when a familiar song, such as America's "Horse With No Name," pops up while Julia and the girls are hitchhiking across the desert. We get a sense of the culture of Morocco, but no real understanding of it, any more than Julia really understands herself any better in the end. But what we see is captivating enough that like Julia's children, we go along for the adventure."
"Kate Winslet absolutely shines in this tale of a young mother escaping "boring" London with her two young daughters. Julia (Winslet) and her daughters travel to Morocco to "find answers" and go on a journey. Of course, Julia finds love and a father figure for her daughters. Visually stunning and brilliantly acted, Hidious Kinky is an off-beat, yet highly rewarding film. If you're tired of Hollywood movies, see this film for a unique viewing experience."
Beautiful eye candy
lost_in_space82 | 10/09/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderful looking film; wide open shots of the country side, colourful villages, and Kate is a beautiful hippy. Inventive and engaging use of music with the scenes as well (kudos for including Nick Drake on the soundtrack). These things make the film certainly worthwhile. I have to say, however, that the story can be a bit thin and the whole "spiritual quest" theme is somewhat vague. Everything just sort of starts with Kate'n'the kids abroad griping about how daddy won't send the checks! The book is clearer on these ideas, but they weren't translated to the screenplay so well. Still, I can recommend the film if you know the book, or are a Winslet fan (and you should be)."