Film Review: “Girls of the Sun” (2018) ★★★★

Apart from the reasons that start a war, there are other aspects of it we know nothing about – for instance why one or another soldier agrees to put his life on the line? Certainly, the love for one’s country is a driving force to take a gun and run towards an unseen foe. But when those soldiers are women, all that we have to do is sit back and let ourselves process their story, step into their shoes to understand why instead of the freedom they could have had, they choose to join the female battalion in the fight against ISIS.

“Girls of the Sun” tells the true story of a Kurdish female battalion which, after being sold to slavery, broken within, raped, beaten up, and psychologically exhausted, they still find the courage to go to the place where they could feel like the right ones to fight against those who took their home away, killed their loved ones, and forced hundreds of thousands of people to run for their lives. As the film is based on true events taking place in Iraqi Kurdistan, places, names, and factions have been changed to protect real people from being identified.

Mathilde (Emmanuelle Bercot) is a war reporter with her own loss to cope from. She follows the all-female battalion in Iraq that has declared a war against the common enemy – ISIS. As Mathilde begins documenting their everyday life, we meet Bahar (Golshifteh Farahani), whose heartbreaking and devastating backstory is being introduced through flashback scenes. In those scenes, we learn how she’s held in captivity, lost her family, missing son, the sister that committed suicide after being repeatedly raped by a man who purchased her as a sex slave. All this time, Bahar is in another room, helpless, unable to stop the abuse on her sister, as she is the next one to be physically tortured by the same man.

As we learn her reasons of joining the all-female force, the film skillfully navigates through real-time and the past to paint a clear picture for us, to understand the struggle all these women had to go through.  As the story unfolds, you will find it difficult to let all the information you receive go through your sane mind. Because everything that is being captured in the film is a horrific story of failed humans who abuse their fellow citizens just like that, for no reason. Just to see that is enough to despise the ways and all the reasons provided to justify it. Because it’s simply not worth it.

In the end, the screenplay written by Eva Husson in collaboration with Jacques Akchoti, and directed by Eva Husson, the film takes a lighter approach to not shock the viewer to the core, while through the brilliant performances of Golshifteh Farahani, there will be no problem to figure out what happens behind closed doors. Her performance of broken but still an extremely strong woman is so believable, it will scare anyone. And that’s what we need sometimes, to have that type of shock therapy to wake up and realize the world we live in is not that kind, has never been, and will never be if things like these we somehow allow to happen.

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