Film Review: Girls of the Sun — A female Kurdish battalion gives Daesh a drubbing

A still from the film 'Girls of the Sun'. (Supplied)
Updated 09 January 2019

Film Review: Girls of the Sun — A female Kurdish battalion gives Daesh a drubbing

  • 'Girls of the Sun' is a war drama
  • The film is a fictional story based on a true story

CHENNAI: Eva Husson’s war drama “Girls of the Sun” is hitting movie theaters just as the world’s attention is once again focused on northern Iraq, where this fictional story, based on a true story, is set. It also comes as Hollywood, under attack for underrepresentation of women in the industry, is trying to stamp out gender inequality.

With the exiled Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani in the role of Bahar, commander of a Kurdish unit battling Daesh, “Girls of the Sun” is a paean to the courage and never-say-die attitude of a band of female combatants. From a bored but extremely patient wife in “The Patience Stone” to a Rajasthani woman in “The Song of Scorpions,” Farahani has a brilliant range.

In “Girls of the Sun” Bahar and her comrades take advantage of a male jihadi superstition that death at the hands of a woman will push them straight into hell. A university graduate from Iraq and once a lawyer by profession, Bahar was sold into virtual slavery, her husband murdered and her young son sent away to be trained as a rebel soldier.

Another strong female character is Mathilde (Emmanuelle Bercot), a French war reporter who lost an eye in a conflict zone and has landed in Iraq – a character obviously modelled on American journalist Marie Colvin who died covering the siege of Homs in Syria in early 2012. A film based on Colvin’s life, “A Private War,” has since been made.

French director Husson, the granddaughter of Spanish Republican soldiers, is believed to have written “Girls of the Sun” to explore the theme of resistance against fascist oppression. The message is decidedly feminist, the script is powerful and the action sequences are true to life.

According to one study, women accounted for just 8 percent of directors of the 250 highest-grossing Hollywood films made in 2018. The overall percentage of women in behind-the-scenes movie roles rose to a paltry 20 percent from 18 percent in 2017. “Girls of the Sun,” which competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, marks a step by Hollywood in the right direction.

Screen Scene: What to watch at home this week

What to watch on Netflix this week. (Shutterstock)
Updated 15 January 2019

Screen Scene: What to watch at home this week

DUBAI: If you plan on staying in this week, here is what to watch.
The Last Laugh
Starring Chevy Chase, Richard Dreyfuss, Andie MacDowell
Where Netflix
Retired talent manager Al Hart is reunited with his first client, Buddy Green, at a retirement community. Green is a stand-up who quit showbiz decades ago, but Hart persuades him to escape the community and hit the road for one last cross-country comedy tour.

Friends From College
Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage
Where Netflix
Second season of the comedy series about a group of friends from Harvard. As Max’s wedding approaches, the friends have to come together and face the issues raised by season one’s revelation about an affair between two of the group.

Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft
Where Netflix
A darker, live-action take on DC’s “Teen Titans” franchise. Batman’s former sidekick Dick Grayson and Rachel Roth encounter other disillusioned young heroes, including Beast Boy and Starfire, and form their own crimefighting group.

Carmen Sandiego
Starring Gina Rodriguez, Finn Wolfhard
Where Netflix, from Jan.18
Animated series based on the fictional globe-trotting master criminal regarded as a villain by international law enforcement agencies. But her actions are more like those of a modern-day Robin Hood, stealing from evil corporations and giving back to victims

Starring: Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie
Where: Netfix, from Jan. 18
A young scientist — one of the last survivors on earth — tries to find a way for mankind to survive without leaving their home planet. As the departure of the last shuttle approaches, her resolve is tested.