Wednesday, March 05, 2008

These Girls

Tahani Rached | 2006 | 68 min | Egypt

These Girls is a documentary portrait of a small group of girls who share companionship in the brutal and violent streets of Cairo, Egypt. Unfortunately, These Girls goes out of its way to insert so much whimsy and romance into the lives of these teenage prostitutes and runaways that virtually all of the impact is lost. The music, editing, and extended dances sequences all conspire to reduce this film to near parody. Yes, i said extended dance sequences. In one scene, a man washes out a found styrofoam cooler with rags to act as a makeshift crib for a girl's newborn baby. It is a disturbing moment- or it would be were it not played for laughs. The theatre thought it was adorable. Those homeless people are so inventive! Cute!

Also problematic is that the film gives no context to their lives or community so a great deal of cultural references are lost. The same can be said of the heavy reliance of euphemistic language like "slept with" or "love" to indicate rape, kidnapping, and prostitution. And to avoid any problems with what seems to be a predetermined story arc, when a girl is arrested or otherwise disappears, she is given no more than a quick mention and is quickly forgotten in favour of the other main "characters."

There is a great documentary that could made about these young women, who are strong, intelligent, and open about their day-to-day struggles, but this is not it.


Cali Angel said...

well this looks interesting. I don't know about the love in prostitution but I'm open to be intrigued.


Anonymous said...

I perceived it totally differently. First, the euphemistic language is used by the girls themselves for obvious reasons. It does never give the impression that prostitution has sth to do with love (I think thats not what you wanted to say, Im just saying it because of the previous comment). Secondly, about the dance scences, the reason why you find them trivialzing may be cultural. For me they were not, not even extended, but maybe you just have to know Egypt a little bit to understand that properly. Im not Egyptian, but Im half middle eastern and I expierenced such dancing moments as a part of daily life, and not as sth reserved for celebrations. I think this movie showed their horrible circumstances without taking away their dignity, showing their vulnerability as well as their strength. Yes, first the music did irritate me, but then, seeing more of the movie, it seemed to reflect their lives: not that sth comical was going on, but to put it in the words of one of "these girls": "we are always sad. even then we love, its not from our heart." as well this horse riding scene: out of context, we might see that as sth which has to do with freedom and joy, but in this movie, its ridicolous to perceive it like that and to conclude that they have enjoy freedom and a romantic lifestyle. no, that is not what it wants to say. I think this laughter, this humour, this dancing and singing doesnt show that they celebrate life, but its a way to stay alive, to make it bearable. we fill pity, but they have to cope somehow with their lives.