Raja is a nineteen-year-old orphan literally and figuratively scarred by life. Fred is an emotionally bankrupt Frenchman living amid plush gardens and palm trees. Set against the backdrop of Marrakech, Raja is a cross-cultural drama about the complex relationship that evolves between her and him.
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So uncomfortable. My skin slowly turned inside out as I watched the remains of colonialism work its magic on these two. It was a start-and-go process for me. I took long, long breaks from the film whenever the relationship between Raja and Fred shifted in power. Oh, the skin-crawling effects of exotic lust, love, horniness--whatever you want to call it. Such a potent film, such an unerring film. No easy answers here.
It's fascinating how sometimes films which appear so simple on the surface can be the most engaging and make the most impact. Though not visually stimulating, Raja triumphs through content and performance.
This movie leaves so much on the table. With more care, more polish, this really could have been a classic. There is so much to unwrap in the power dynamics between the Frenchman and Raja, in how it speaks to culture, race, education, gender, class, history, and so on, but we never quite get the cleverness or cohesiveness that we were expecting and that the story really deserves.
This movie is a hot, sensationalized depiction of true life when the dominant win over the marginalized. Raja depicts a chauvinist foreigner unraveling all people/relationships around him, but depends too much on shock value in order to make the plot. more attractive When watching, I saw gaudy gardens in deserts and nail-biting twists. I wish Doillon used more innovation and depth to tell the morbid tale of Raja
This is a well-observed parable of colonialism. It is grounded in a naturalism that belies its symbolism, keeping it from becoming heavy-handed. But this naturalism is sometimes its downfall; too many of the conversations are repeated throughout the film, and could have been abridged. Viewers should be warned that in spite of its subject matter, it is not a particularly erotic film.
The airy tone shrouds a terrifying truth for people like Raja, whose tiny glances of cleverness are never enough to overcome the push-pull oppression of the men in her life. The performances in the film are faultless, and the uncluttered direction serves the actors well.