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Cannes 2011. Radu Mihaileanu's "The Source"

"Romanian-born filmmaker Radu Mihaileanu offers up another certifiably crowd-pleasing slice of world cinema in The Source (La Source des Femmes), a modern-day fable exploring female empowerment in the Arab world," writes Jordan Mintzer in the Hollywood Reporter. "Never one for subtlety, the writer-director tosses everything he can into this two-hour-plus humanist couscous, stirring in a mix of songs, sentiments and socio-religious questions set beneath breathtaking North African landscapes, and carried by a strong central performance from actress Leila Bekhti."

I don't usually like to include the trades' potential sales assessments, but this one's too nice to let slip: "Like his previous films, The Source boasts an Arthouse for Beginners appeal that could reach broad audiences beyond Europe."

"In a scenic hamlet where the long-suffering women labor like beasts of burden and produce children like breeding machines, their hot-tempered men folk claim their patriarchal right to lounge around drinking tea and playing cards while being waited on hand and foot," explains Alissa Simon in Variety. "Young wife Leila, an outsider from the more easygoing south, is concerned by the number of miscarriage-triggering accidents occurring on the steep mountain path the femmes tread each day to fetch water. Her suggestion that the males pitch in until a pipeline is installed draws scorn from her nasty mother-in-law, Fatima (Hiam Abbass), who continually agitates for her son to repudiate the barren Leila. Supported by feisty widowed neighbor Old Warhorse (Biyouna) and free-thinking schoolteacher hubby Sami (Saleh Bakri, The Band's Visit), Leila proposes a no-nookie regime until the situation change…. The script, following the Mihaileanu formula of equal parts schmaltz and stereotype, tosses in half a dozen underdeveloped side plots in order to tick off issues."

"Beautifully photographed amongst the harsh light of the dry, desert landscapes, The Source frequently feels like a musical and the women constantly burst into song as a way of expressing their feelings and grievances." Allan Hunter in Screen: "It would not be entirely surprising to see the film translated into a Broadway show with the sweep of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or Fiddler on the Roof."


Grades are way, way low at Micropsia.

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