Jason T. Rath | New York, NY | 05/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Differences in culture, language, socio-economic class, race--all are obstacles that can be overcome in relationships, but not without difficulty. This challenging film, set in Marrakech, Morocco, addresses these in a story of a wealthy (relatively speaking), expatriate Frenchman seeking an affair (sex and companionship, without commitment) and a young, poor Moroccan woman who seeks to escape prostituting herself for money by finding true love and financial security in this foreigner who pursues her. This is a complex story about conflicting wants and needs, told with a realism that is both disturbing and compelling. Aspects of colonialism are clearly evident in this film, especially reminding the viewer that "you don't bite the hand that feeds you"--a bittersweet, but real dynamic of class division, colonization and conquests around the world.
Regarding cinematography, audiences seeking exotic, panoramic views of this North African country will be disappointed. This movie is a close-up on relationships.
The acting was very convincing. The story describes relationships in many former colonies around the world (i.e., this could be adapted to many different cultural settings).
I strongly recommend this film, but for mature audiences only."
Lust, codependency, economic manipulation in Marrakesh, and
Saty Satya Murti | NorthEast Kansas | 09/05/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A dissolute Frenchman (Fred), owner of an enclave in Marrakesh, takes a fancy to one of several young girls. They and their families, are fighting endemic poverty, and are struggling to better their lives. The Frenchman, moneyed and with maniacal lust on his mind tries to seduce Raja, one of the girls. Raja, orphaned and sold early to street life, is unwilling to abase herself any longer. Her desire to escape bondage and poverty, however, present very conflicting temptations. We are taken through many a suggestive encounter between Fred and Raja. Raja is urged to accept money and gifts, and prodded by friends and family to yield so that both she and they could benefit from any trickle down largesse. This way Raja can avoid being married off by her scheming brother to a policeman in a distant city. There is also the possibility of Raja and her less complicated boyfriend "Scooter" finding permanent employment as innkeepers under Fred.
Her formerly resolute ego starts to crack and she submits to the French rake. Just once, if only to escape the relentless pestering and threats,she rationalizes perhaps, she will go to bed with Fred. This done, she leaves, presumably forever from his enclave. There is much mutual manipulation between the two, and in the end Raja's moral stance defeats the Frenchman's apparent and covert plans. The see-saw swing of schemes between the two holds elements of nice surprise and tension for the viewers. But this is also tiring and takes away my fifth star in the rating.
There are spots of spicy conversation between the Frenchman and his two older female household helpers. We get to peek into Moroccan ways of betrothal and the wretched state of women there and elsewhere. Slow and incessantly stubborn obsession with sex and seduction made me wonder if Fred had any room left in his head for even minimally nobler thoughts. In many parts of the world other darker economically weaker women also probably suffered such degrading subordinacy during colonial occupancy. I admired Raja for turning this imbalance into occasional strategic advantage.
This is not a movie surrogate for Moroccan tourism or regional mores; however, it can be a brief peek at complex ethno-cultural interactions that extend beyond Morocco to just about any of the former colonies."