Sisters Review – Red Sea International Film Festival 2021

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Franco-Algerian filmmaker and politician Yamini Benguigui delves into her personal history archives in this semi-autobiographical drama. A moving but strangely empty story of 30 years of torment for three sisters over their brother’s kidnapping at the hands of an abusive father.

Centered on siblings, Zorah (Isabelle Adjani), Nohra (Maïwenn) and Djamila (Rachida Brakni), each a very different woman in their personalities, living in a cosmopolitan Paris. Zorah, a bohemian playwright and the eldest of the trio, has a relaxed attitude towards life until it comes to her job. Deciding to Engage in a New Play Zorah tells the story of her family struggles growing up at the hands of an abusive and controlling father becomes the root of new tensions between her mother and sisters. Djamila, as a prominent politician working for the voices of the Algerian and Muslim communities, does not want to disseminate the family’s dirty laundry in public. Nohra, the unemployed and mentally fragile person of the trio, is filled with anger at the mere mention of their childhood becoming a factoring trigger.

Benguigui has a rambling approach, the flashbacks are told through the empty and absent eyes of Adjani’s Zorah – of growing up with their father in Algeria, an Algeria where women have no rights even when it comes to custody of their children. Their mother’s subsequent flight from her tyrannical reign for her daughters’ freedom evolves through those playing their younger counterparts on stage, but in real settings – which makes it all the more baffling.

During the aforementioned leak, their brother Rheda was kidnapped by their father. 30 years later, they have never given up hope that he will be found. When their father is on their deathbed, the women return to Algeria to find their missing brother and finally sink into their roots. At this point, questions begin to arise due to the lack of a substantive story. Had these women ever tried to find the missing brother? We will never know.

Despite its running time of an hour and 40 minutes, the flashbacks are mostly rushed, indefinite and when we come back to our days our protagonists are all one-dimensional, it’s hard to make an empathetic connection, even with a story. as interesting and alluring as this. For many mysteries, the audience is left to be desired. There is a deeply permeated vagueness from start to finish – a truly lost opportunity for such a dramatic and intriguing premise.

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