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Film Review: “Sand Storm” (2016) ★★★★


Love. Family. Respect. Forced culture. Loss of freedom. No right to choose or defend yourself. Yet the arranged marriage, “SAND STORM” is a new look into the middle eastern culture where man is the only one who is entitled to make decisions, and whether it is right or wrong, that’s a question nobody dares to ask.

The movie revolves around Layla, a young, intelligent and vibrant teenage girl, whose desire to get college education is highly supported by her father, Suliman. But on the wedding day of her father with another woman, Jalila, Layla’s mother receives a phone call that turns Layla’s life upside down. But the true meaning of having life turned around in the opposite direction is something Layla will learn after sharing her secret with her father, who she expected to support her as he used to before… But unfortunately, not this time, and not what the girl asked for…

Jalila in the beginning appears to be a very demanding and moreover, difficult person to handle. It’s her, who as soon as she finds out about Layla’s young admirer from a different tribe, gets uncontrollably furious. This makes the audience dislike her character in the most powerful way. However, soon those feeling will change as the overprotection of Jalila will be explained by Suliman’s close-mindedness, who she wanted to distance her daughter from.

But when you find Suliman in the beginning, he does not appear as bad as he will after sometime. He is very caring and loving father, who despite the prejudices of the society wants his daughter to have education, even though the diploma she may get won’t be useful after she gets married. Seeing that would not make anyone happier, as having a father in a very strict culture who is willing to break the rules is truly outstanding. But that, the same way as it will happen with Jalila, is what will surprise the audience, as the character development is so remarkable that you will have to change your mind about each character throughout the film.

“SAND STORM” written and directed by Elite Zexer does not focus on Layla or her relationship with a young man who she deeply loves. It keeps its focus on her mother as well, who is willing to get banished in order to support her daughter in any way she can. The writer and filmmaker cleverly highlights the power of a man in a man’s world where women have no right, not even to speak up. And when she does that, she gets punished for her boldness. But what you will see in this film is not only what I had mentioned above, but another very important struggle of Layla, who has to decide between her real family and the family she may gain after she runs away with Anwar.

As the film itself is in Arabic, it brings a powerful and impactful atmosphere that will grab your attention from the start to the end. The beautiful set and cinematography will deliver the lifestyle of the Bedouin women that will be highly appreciated by you. The performance as well is solid and not forceful. Every actor follows the flow, allowing the characters they portray to become as real as it could get. This is why watching international movies is very important not for judging purposes, but for educational… Because by learning from Layla or Jalila will help each and everyone to be stronger, sober and realist and be able to stand for what you think is right….

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