19 January 2019 | silvio-mitsubishi
The film sets out its stall very early, so we know within the first few minutes what we are about to see, but I spent ninety minutes in denial, hoping against all expectation that something would happen to change the course of the story.
The male characters are predictable without being cartoonish, but the female parts are outstanding. The Moroccan grandmother exemplifies the way the grandfather has been able to develop a God complex, critical of North African patriarchy while practicing it himself. It is the children's mother (Emilie Dequenne), though, who gives the most extraordinary performance. She is utterly compelling and places us, however unwillingly, into the position of the oppressed and abused. I am rarely a fan of child actors but Jade and Sohane could have been in a fly-on-the-wall documentary, so natural did they appear.
The end had a sense of horrific inevitability handled with the sympathetic discretion of Elvira Madigan, with the soundtrack adding to that comparison.
Staggeringly heartfelt, disturbing and painfully real. Truly devastating.