Combining The Dardennes' working class sensibilities and von Trier's art of human tragedy, DIVINES might be the best Netflix Original to date. Not to mention that this is also one of the most powerful debut feature ever, coming from Houda Benyamina (remember her name, you may). Oulaya Amamra is a revelation.
Awesome believable performances full of life and spontaneity from the two leads here set against a backdrop of harsh survivalist reality. I didn't care for the dancer or the dancing strand and I kind of wish they'd gotten away with it instead of the to-be-expected tragedy. 3 stars
One of the year's best. Benyamina's film (a Camera d'or winner) crackles with audacity, topicality and intensity in its tale of a young teen trying to make some cash and a life for herself in a society that limits her potential. The director's sister, Oulaya Amamra, makes an outstanding debut here as Dounia capturing the determination and vitality of her character but also the self doubt and fear of coming of age.
All kinds of promise promised here. Both in the sense that the film's first twenty or thirty minutes promise a deeper, finer-grained, more subtly brilliant film than its ham-fisted final half-hour turns this one into, and in that one senses Benyamina is only going to get better from here.
Benyamina's debut feature starts off very well, exhuberent, witty and a lot earthier than Céline Sciamma's vaguely similar Bande des filles/Girlhood but it goes off the rails a bit with its lurches into mannerism, with some very clichéd use of Mozart and Handel. It could have been a whole lot better but a decent enough debut and Benyamina will make a great film yet.