Divines Screen 5 articles

Divines

2016

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  • Featuring a fierce breakout performance from Oulaya Amamra as a badass banlieue gal from the wrong side of the tracks, the film dishes out tons of energy and a certain brand of macho feminism where traditional gender roles are all but reversed. Yet despite such ambitions, Benyamina has a hard time maintaining her film's pace and plausibility, especially during a third act that slides too far into genre territory and its accompanying clichés.

  • The film is overflowing, a typical case of an all-that-matters-to-me first feature, and dull, packed with clichés aimed at a mainstream teenage audience. At Cannes, some observers confused the film’s rage and frantic editing with creative vitality; but a lack of invention in situations and dialogue is never going to be saved by blasting lyrical classical music, however reliably tear-inducing Lacrimosa might be.

  • Benyamina’s film is not quite ground-breaking cinema, but there is a genuine energy and authenticity to her depiction of ghetto life on the outskirts of Paris, and its machine-gun bursts of dialogue drew a warm response from the French audience.

  • It rivals Girlhood as a portrait of combustible banlieue femininity, emanating raw energy and scrappy good humor even as it builds to an unexpectedly tragic and horrifying finale. The film also showcases a potentially star-making performance by Oulaya Amamra, who happens to be the director’s younger sister. Chosen despite a cattle call in which Benyamina looked at over 3,000 other young women, Amamra is so arrestingly alive onscreen that thoughts of nepotism seem ludicrous.

  • One ambitious gesture is the surprising contemporary dance scenes which in a drug-running buddy-thriller should feel out of place but doesn’t. Benyamina and DP Julien Poupard watch bodies writhing and twisting from the aerial perspective of Dounia and Maimouna. These semi-abstract sequences possess a real power – and suggest that not everyone from the banlieue ghetto is after money and power.

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