Tribeca 2019 Film Review: “Flesh Out” (2019) ★★★★

Each country has its own culture. That culture hides centuries-long traditions capable of stunning any mind by its beauty and charm which only time could deliver. However, some of them can be astoundingly shocking, terrifying, and barbaric.

Set in Mauritania, “Flesh Out” follows a young woman named Verida, who was promised to the Tinijia family for marriage. In order to fulfill the long-standing tradition called gavage, she has to gain weight to meet the local standards of beauty. As she’s forced to eat almost ten times in a day, she not only begins to gain weight but becomes more sure to find a voice that can either push her to the edge of a cliff or gain freedom, whatever it means for her.

Verida is a very free-spirited modern girl. She works in a beauty salon, loves her friends and social media. She, even for the sake of making an attempt, applies to become the face of a local cell phone provider. Her parents are very traditional. It was early morning when they wake her up and announced that she is already engaged with a man she’s never even met before. And now, in order to meet the beauty standards, she needs to gain a substantial amount of weight to be accepted by her husband. In the beginning, she tries to remain cool and do whatever her mother wants her to, but after some time it starts taking over her sanity as she starts seeing her life differently, her friends, her relationship with her mother, and even with Sidi, the man who is in love with him but she can’t respond in the same way, not anymore.

“Flesh Out”, written and directed by Michela Occhipinti, is a very interesting film about strong traditions that wouldn’t be practiced in a civilized world unless it’s restricted purely to one or another community. It is, also, based on the personal experience of Verida Beitta Ahmed Deiche who, through the portrayal of herself, provides an in-depth look into the issue the one can hope no one ever has to go through. As for the film itself, it’s a slow-paced drama that takes time to develop Verida’s story in such a way that you can have a unique experience by transporting yourself from your comfort zone into a troubled one where things like gavage should be stopped from being practiced.

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