TIFF 15 Review: “DÉGRADÉ” (2015) ★★★★



There is a part of the world where even going to a beauty salon is dangerous. And that danger can come not only from machine guns but from sharp-tongued women as well. And when you reach to the point where you’re surrounded by non-stop gun shots in the street, you somehow manage to continue cutting hair, fixing eyebrows and gossiping, until the moment you realize that your life may end before the war outside.

Dégradé, directed by Arab and Tarzan Nasser, follows a group of women who visit Christine’s beauty salon during a hot summer in the Gaza Strip. Since that day is one of those rare days when they have electricity, a bride-to-be, a pregnant woman, a bitter divorcée, a devout woman and a pill-popping addict decide to use the opportunity to touch up their hair or have an evening make-up. But instead, soon they will find themselves in the middle of a bloody conflict between Hamas and the Gangland family who stole the lioness from Gaza’s only zoo. If in the beginning the only priority for those women was to beautify their look, but by end of the day that will be their least concern, as the only thing they will fear about – losing their lives because of “liberating the lioness.”

Dégradé is a very imaginative movie set in one room, where the conflicts women may have in a beauty salon is a common thing in certain parts of the world. And that is not necessarily a bad thing, if the anger won’t escalate to the level we see in Nasser’s movie. It’s absolutely incredible how well the filmmakers translate the real life situation that may occur in a beauty salon into a movie with such details. Some viewers may find it strange seeing how our heroines still want their hair to be done or wear makeup in spite of having no power, and a war outside. But if you watch the movie with attention then you will certainly get a chance to find out that gun shots and having no power is part of their daily routine life, which is not fun at all.

In conclusion, Dégradé is a film that will require your full attention. It’s important to start feeling the environment before you start watching it. Even though it may sound complicated, however, the film is filled with simplicity that will allow everyone to understand not only those women who are locked inside, but also those who are about to lose their lives outside. And once you do that, you will be amazed by the high quality of the film with solid performances from the entire cast, which is, unfortunately, very little known in North America.

Screening time:

MON, SEP 14, 7:45 PM

Scotiabank Theatre Scotiabank 1 – SUBTITLED 

WED, SEP 16, 3:15 PM

AGO Jackman Hall – SUBTITLED 

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