Conflict transcends both plot and narrative in 2018’s French-War film Girls of the Sun (Les filles du soleil) with righteous themes told in such an accost manner that it detracts from the subjects experience in order to make proclamations on the importance of open journalism.
Believing in the significance of broadcasting war, French journalist Mathilde (Emmanuelle Bercot) thrusts herself into a warzone to document the mission of a Kurdish female battalion – all of whom have been captives of war – as they endeavour to reclaim their country.
Director Eva Husson intertwines flashbacks throughout Girls of the Sun to highlight leader of the battalion Bahar (Golshifteh Farahani) reliving her traumatic experiences, though in doing so creates a convoluted story that becomes more like a confusing episode of Lost that instead of being informative asks the audience for sympathy.
Embracement of the culture and the respect which women treat one another in a male-dominated society is empowering, with the existence of these strong women who are worthy of celebration reduced in impact thanks to a screenplay that talks more poetry than dialogue.
Mathilde’s story, coming off feeble in comparison, runs into a major narrative problem having to compete with the Kurdish women’s fight, where had the plot centred on Mathilde entering the Kurdish women’s story, the focus would shift from being a journalist’s observation of war to that of women reclaiming what is stolen from them.
Questioning, and answering, the ethicality of Mathilde’s privilege being able to enter and exit the war zone feels more like a message of self-congratulations by the filmmakers, as if to proclaim the importance of their efforts as opposed to upholding the integrity of the film.
Despite good intentions, Girls of the Sun is a troubled film that questions moral standards yet is willing to embellish a dramatic experience that is an actual reality for women in countries consumed by war.
Girls of the Sun screens as part of the 2019 Alliance Française French Film Festival. For more information, screening locations and times, visit: www.affrenchfilmfestival.org for details.
Image: Girls of the Sun (supplied)
Review: Hagan Osborne