Divines (2016)

HOUDA BENYAMINA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  France/Qatar, 2016.  , , , , , , , , , , , , .  Screenplay by Houda Benyamina, , , dialogue and adaptation by Romain Compingt, Houda Benyamina.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  Golden Globe Awards 2016.  Toronto International Film Festival 2016.

Dounia sees school as a waste of time, her challenges in the rough suburbs of Paris including an alcoholic mother at home and teachers at school that prepare girls like her (mostly from Africa or African parents) for dull jobs as receptionists.  Dounia’s hot temper and intense frustration inspire her to quit school and go to work for the neighbourhood drug kingpin, becoming a seller and earning the boss’s trust to take on bigger and more dangerous assignments.  At the same time, she spies a handsome young dancer in the theatre where she hides her personal money stash and begins a flirtation that could be her chance to pursue something more legitimate than the life she is falling into.  Director Houda Benyamina’s coming of age tale spells its morality out pretty clearly, telling a tale of easy money leading to hard circumstances, but tells it with such great energy and relies so wisely on the charisma of its performers that it is compelling even when it is at its most didactic.

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