Osama

Movie Review by Almiro Jorge

Starring: Marina Golbahari, Arif Herati, Zubaida Sahar, Gol Rahman Ghorbandi

Director: Siddiq Barmak

Foreign film of the year?

Seen through the camera of a journalist, a parade of women clad in blue burkas, fighting for the right to work, march through the streets of Kabul, as a young street urchin (Arif Herati) accompanies the reporter in his recording of the protest for a few extra dollars. There is a swift change of mood when sudden shouts of “The Taliban are here!” ring out. Through the sound of gunshots you can hear the stampede of women, desperately trying to flee from the streets. This is the story of how one of these women and her daughter try to make ends meet in a world where women are not allowed to work.

Mother (Zubaida Sahar) and her twelve year-old daughter (Marina Golbahari) live alone since the death of both men in the family. The breadwinner role has been handed to the mother who is a nurse in the local hospital. The closure of the hospital means that no income will be brought into the home and it spawns the idea of turning the girl into a boy so that ‘he’ can support the family. The girl gets a job from a friend of the family who then tries to help in every way possible.

After a few days of working, she is taken to the madrasah with the rest of the village boys where they are to receive military training and taught the Koran. In addition to this they are also to be taught the rituals for the proper way to bathe. The name ‘Osama’ is finally given to the girl by the young urchin who takes care of her.

Director, Siddik Barmak, creates some beautiful shots to show the ridiculous regulations placed upon the people of the country. His framing is elegant and sets a poignant feel to the film. He also uses some striking montage in the last shot of the film to show her mental imprisonment. At moments the film is heart stopping. Unfortunately, in its portrayal of Afghanistan, the film forces its statements instead of using delicate statements. The performances elicited by Barmak from a non-professional cast are astounding.

A great discovery of Afghanistan in a beautifully created film.

5 out of 6 stars

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