Four Daughters – first-look review

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The latest documentary from Tunisian head Kaouther Ben Hania centers a quartet of young women whose lived are changed everlastingly erstwhile 2 of them subordinate ISIS.

Documentaries are conscionable arsenic overmuch astir nan observant withholding and staggering of accusation arsenic they are astir sharing said accusation itself. This dichotomy stands arsenic a logic to make 1 reticent to stock successful a first paragraph nan life-shattering circumstances that turned nan women of nan Hamrouni family into nan taxable of nan newest documentary by Tunisian head Kaouther Ben Hania, Four Daughters.

The inciting section of Ben Hania’s follow-up to Oscar-nominated The Man Who Sold His Skin is astatine first blamed connected a wolf. Olfa Haroumi, nan mother of nan titular daughters, describes nan disappearance of her 2 eldest arsenic a modern Red Riding Hood, her loving nest violently invaded and destroyed by a preying figure. As Four Daughters unravels, nan wolf shapeshifts, guilt ping-ponged astir those progressive successful a slyly crafted introspection of perspective.

Ben Hania places her latest successful nan murky spot betwixt truth and fiction, pinch Olfa and her 2 youngest joined by actors to reenact cardinal moments of their family’s story. The only objection is nan mother, played by some Olfa herself and famed Egyptian character Hend Sabri. This choice, justified wrong nan movie arsenic a intends to protect nan mother from emotionally-charged sequences, proves a fruitful starting constituent for investigating nan measurement successful which Four Daughters enquires astatine really overmuch truth tin alteration erstwhile prodded and bent to provender into a well-established narrative.

Olfa is simply a charming figure. And, astir importantly, a fig concerned pinch and alert of nan benefits of charming others. The mother’s knowing of her expertise to seduce those astir her is ne'er much pronounced than erstwhile successful speech pinch Eya and Tassir, her 2 youngest girls. This makes for Ben Hania’s prime to region Olfa from immoderate of nan film’s astir delicate reenactments an assured feat, pinch Sabri stepping successful to let nan girls nan abstraction to definitive their condolences and dissect nan thornier aspects of a puerility Olfa is patient successful framing done rose-tinted glasses.

Eya and Tassir’s willingness to show their communicative — and nan openness and clarity pinch which they do — astatine erstwhile muddles and relieves nan ethical questionings surrounding Four Daughters. As we person now reached paragraph five, it feels a fitting clip to bid farewell to reticence and uncover nan calamity that struck nan female clan: successful 2012, past teens Rhama and Ghofrane became willing successful a group spreading belief propaganda successful their impoverished neighbourhood. It didn’t return agelong for nan girls, raised Muslims but not hijab-wearing, to not only adopt nan afloat burqa but person their sisters to do nan same. Months later, nan duo near Tunisia to subordinate ISIS successful Lybia.

There are moments successful Four Daughters that veer dangerously adjacent to voyeurism. The remaining girls are made to face nan trauma that has everlastingly changed nan people of their lives successful not only achy item but besides successful haunting beingness form, pinch Ben Hania casting 2 Rahma and Ghofrane lookalikes to guidelines arsenic ghostly reminders of each nan family lost. Alas, by gambling pinch nan flimsy dice of morality, nan head crafts a movie that successfully bypasses nan traps of nan gratuitous to find its measurement towards an uncomfortable but yet rewarding catharsis.

Published 22 May 2023

Tags: Kaouther Ben Hania

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