CHENNAI: Moroccan writer-director Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloisi’s “Sofia” tells us in just 80 minutes the sorrowful story of a young woman who gives birth to a child out of wedlock and then, pushed to the edge, manipulates the crisis to her advantage.
“Sofia” follows protagonist Sofia (played by Maha Alemi) as she discovers she is pregnant. She is unmarried, and a child out of wedlock is a crime.
The film, which premiered at Cannes 2018 and is part of the Arab Cinema Competition, starts at a dinner table where Faouzi (Faouzi Bensaidi) and his family are entertaining rich businessman Ahmed (Mohammed Bousbaa) in the hope of clinching a lucrative deal with him.
But when Faouzi’s daughter Sofia falls ill with severe stomach cramps, her doctor cousin Lena (Sarah Perles) examines her in the kitchen and finds out she is pregnant.
At that very moment, Sofia’s water breaks. Lena whisks her to a clinic and takes the help of a doctor friend to get around the law.
The movie is focused, staying all along with Sofia, following her when she hatches a selfish plan to get out of her sticky situation by forcing an innocent man to pay the price.
The film wins additional stars for the performances of the two lead actresses. Although Alemi has to look glum for the most part, she shines at the end, opening up a hidden facet of her character.
Perles is marvelous as a woman torn between the law and her cousin’s dilemma, and as a medical practitioner she even risks her budding career.
At the end, when the chilling truth comes out, she is shocked and distressed, but never gives up on her cousin.