The Source Review

Watching Radu Mihaileanu’s beautiful new film, The Source is an experience not that dissimilar to eating a piece of baklava.

It’s rich, layered, indulgent and a little bit saccharine. But then I love baklava and could eat my body weight in the stuff, so watching this was no real torment. If you don’t have a sweet tooth however you might not be in for such a treat.

The story is based on the Greek tale of Lysistrata and also A Thousand And One Nights, only moved to a modern day, rural North African village. Here, the women have been collecting water from a spring miles up in the hills since the beginning of time.

After a fatal accident on one of their trips, the women lead by the spirited Leila, decide to go on a “love” strike; withholding sex from their husbands until they build a pipeline to the village.

The Source is a gloriously beautiful film with cinematography good enough to make you drool, though perhaps I was just thinking about baklava too much. The dialogue at times is rather heavy handed and overly metaphorical, with women referring to their, ah, parts as ovens and tunnels.

Which pretty much screams “this was written by a man” straight from the off, but essentially it is a portrait of the bonds between women and how strong some of them need to be in order to make their lives bearable.

There are numerous laugh out loud moments, particularly from the superb Biyouna as Old Mother Rifle; a widow who urges the women along with Leila, played by Leila Bekhti, not to stray from their mission. However each moment of humour is followed by one of savage cruelty from the sex starved men, as we see first hand just how much these women are risking by embarking upon this journey.

Rapes, beatings and even death are threats that loom over their heads and with each second of the film the tension rises and our empathy mounts. I found it very hard not to shout “you go, sister!” at the screen most of the time, especially during the kick ass final scenes.

What is particularily refreshing though is that although the men are the antagonists they are merely protecting what they believe is right. This is not a film about women versus islam, although it really does feel like that at first.

The Source is a film about education and finding a way to free all people trapped in a world where fundamentalism rules. Mihaileanu reminds us that sadly this is not as easy to do as the film makes out and that this story is all just a fairytale, with Leila as a modern day Scheherazade.

Does this detract from it being a powerful story? Hell no! If anything the sugary sweetness emphasises the sour and makes the plight of real women all the more tragic.

Not everyone will like this film as there are faults lying in between its layers. But I was taught that it is our faults that make us beautiful, and this is one heck of a pretty film.

Now, pass me some more baklava.

Hannah Lane

One Response to “The Source Review”
  1. avatar Ophelia says:

    Great review I want to see it!

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Dates ‘n stuff

May 2012