Hideous Kinky

. My movie friend, the Romantic Comedy Wimp, with whom I saw Gillies Mackinnon’s new film Hideous Kinky, loved it. Since it had beautiful scenery (filmed in Morocco in palettes of glorious yellow and burnt orange), mystical music from the 60s and 70s including one of my favorite Richie Havens songs, a romantic story line, two large and beautiful Kate Winslet breasts, two absolutely adorable children and a leading man who should be a star if he isn’t one already, what is stopping me from giving this film a rave review?

Basically it’s her. I didn’t believe Kate Winslet, and if you don’t believe her then all the events that happen in the film carry less emotional impact than they should. Kate (Heavenly Creatures, Titanic) plays Julia, a young English woman who has been jilted by the father of her two daughters, precocious eight year old Bea (Bella Riza) and her six year old sister Lucy (Carrie Mullan). She has decided to take the girls to Morocco to pursue her quest to meet the great Sufi master and find internal peace and harmony.

It’s the early 70s so there are lots of other European and American seekers in Marrakech too, mostly lying around seeking tomorrow’s tab of acid. As Julia’s new Moroccan boyfriend Bilal (Said Taghmaoui) says to her one day while swimming in the erotic lake: "I can’t believe you people!" I had the same problem. Director Gillies Mackinnon never really fleshes out Julia’s character. We see only that she is desperate for child support checks to come from England so she can keep bumming around a little longer.

I want to know how our sensitive heroine could possibly leave her eight year old daughter Bea in the company of people she doesn’t know in the middle of the Moroccan desert while she and Lucy hoof it over to Algeirs?

Of course Bea gets lost. I mean, lady, what did you expect?

Fortunately this story is powered by the kids and by Bilal. Bea especially already seems to possess all the wisdom her mother is seeking. She sees everything Julia misses, like Bilal’s wife Fatimah (Rouika Bent H’mad), and the fact that Bilal is running from the police. Bea and her sister Lucy are wonderful together. Amazingly, both are making their acting debuts in this film.

Bilal, played by accomplished Moroccan-French actor Taghmaoui (La Haine, The Gardens of Eden), plays a street acrobat who has been noticed by Julia and immediately becomes her lover and surrogate father to the girls. He has wisdom for Julia too. Once, when they have returned from a visit to his native village, they find themselves on a hillside overlooking the valley beyond. "Let it fill your eyes," he tells her, trying to get her to slow down and remember where they are. Sadly, she doesn’t get the message. The overriding theme of this film seems to be that knowledge is internal, and that a trip to see the Grand Sufi might yield little one didn’t already know.

The screenplay is based on the novel by Esther Freud. Seeing the movie does make me want to find and read the book. By the way, Hideous Kinky has nothing to do with ‘hideous’ and is certainly not ‘kinky.’ It is just two words thrown together, a game the two girls play to pass the time. This is a good movie to pass the time.

…………………….………………..- DAK

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