Satin Rouge

December, 2002, Drama

This is a film from Tunis, the first feature of a woman director whose name I can't recall. It traces the sexual awakening of a Tunisian widow with a daughter of marriageable age with raging hormones. While exercising the kind of strict control over her daughter's whereabouts demanded by the Arab culture of which they are a part, the mother discovers the art of belly-dancing as it's performed in a neighborhood cabaret. The movie traces the mother's struggles in expressing her own sexual identity and makes a remarkably effective case for the tolerance of Islamic society's marginalized women. Cinematography doesn't hold sway here; cost and lack of previous experience make this production very simple and unsophisticated, but the performances are refreshingly open and low key, and the belly dancing Mom shimmies with a sensuality that's quite wonderful.

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