22 June 2018.
This week we have three distinct films about women, all by women directors. Germany/France; Egypt/Iran; Pakistan/Norway. Who said “it’s a man’s world”?
3 DAYS IN QUIBERON **** (vo German)
This haunting black and white film feels more beige or grey, as were the convoluted emotions of Romy Schneider, the Austrian/German/French actress who this film is all about. Actually, it’s about the last interview she gave to the German magazine Stern while she was trying to come off her dependency on pills and alcohol in the society spa of Quiberon in northwestern France. Not the best time to open up deep wounds while trying to heal oneself. Especially to a duo of gossip journalists who were hovering around her like vultures, even if one of them was a close photographer friend.
Her exhaustion from making film after film, bearing her huge celebrity since the age of 15 as the legendary ‘Sissi’, her guilt over neglecting her children because of her career, her mixed allegiance between Germany and France, and her inherent need of love and attention had all brought her to this crisis of emotional bankruptcy. Now these journalists were there and she was scared and reluctant yet eager to entrance them, as was her wont, with her incredible beauty and spontaneous charm.
It was March 1981. Some three months later her 14 year-old son David would be dead in an excruciating accident in his grandparents’ home. And she herself would be dead a year after that at 43, mostly from a broken heart. It didn’t really matter whether it was suicide, a mixture of drugs or a heart attack. This beautiful, torn woman had a right to final peace…
This sublime film that swept the awards at the Lolas, (the German Oscars) along with its German/Iranian director Emily Atef, captures in these three days Romy’s complex character, her honesty and her utter vulnerability.
Not only does the actress Marie Bäumer have an eerie resemblance to Romy, but she has managed to pick up many of the characteristics of the idolized actress – the movements of her hands, her inward-looking eyes, her hesitations and spontaneity, even the licking of her lips. Uncanny indeed, and so she rightfully received the best actress award for this rare role.
Why is it that such talented, lovely women as Romy or Marilyn Monroe suffer so much from their fame, and ‘burn their candles at both ends’?
LOOKING FOR OUM KULTHUM *** (vo English, Farsi, Arabic)
Shirin Neshat is a contemporary, internationally-renowned Iranian artist and filmmaker. Oum Kulthum was an iconic Egyptian singer, passionately revered by all Egyptians and in much of the Arab world.
Both were and are enigmatic figures, both women making their way in a man’s world.
Neshat the artist, as director here, has melded their two lives, creating a film within a film in this re-creation of parts of Kulthum’s rise and career during the Farouk and Nasser years. It feels as though she has put herself in the story as the director with a clear vision for her profession, but paralyzed by serious family problems. Is she trying to tell us that both women had to sacrifice love and family to attain fame and glory? Kulthum with her mass following, and the director with her son in the film? This is a delicate balancing act for it may be all because of arrogance, as she mentions at the end of the film.
Whatever it be, Neshat has fashioned here an imaginary, very aesthetic homage to Kulthum, with magnificent sets and moods, two lovely actresses (Nour Kamar and Neda Rahmanian), while covering some of Egypt’s history in the early 20th century. This is a contemplative gift of art from one woman to another, one era to another. From Egypt and Iran, with love…
WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY? ***
There is a great deal of injustice in this world. There is the huge refugee problem weighing upon Europe; there are the continuous shootings of black men by the police in the U.S.; there are innocent children being torn from their parents, right now in 2018, and in America; and then there are religions and cultures that refuse to advance with society and modern times.
This film portrays the latter with a great deal of personal emphasis, especially as it is based on director Iram Haq’s own experiences as a girl torn between old and new worlds. This intense story of a teenager brought up in Norway in a conservative Pakistani family shows the dilemma of honor and a family’s reputation above the free will of a modern youngster. There is a father who deeply loves his daughter, a mother worried about what their neighbors may think, and the saga of banishment and rebellion. The parents are harsh and wrong in their reactions, while the young girl seems to be making too many foolish decisions at each turn. Go and decide for yourselves.
It has won the Audience Award in many of the festivals it has entered.
My feeling is, if you immigrate to a new country you need to adapt and adjust to their mores and customs. If you can’t, then stay in your own country. That would solve a great many problems. But “political correctness” doesn’t allow one to insist upon that. Pity.
A QUIET PLACE (Sans un bruit)
Apparently this is a brilliant film in its genre, but since I do not go to horror films, you’ll have to fend for yourselves. Good luck.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.