Farah is a young idealist, a singer fresh out of secondary school and living in Tunis with her mother while her father works away. Farah’s band sing songs of protest about the inequities and corruption of their country, songs that begin to be noticed by the authorities. The music is beautiful – a mix of contemporary and traditional, the lyrics like poetry, Farah’s keening voice a heartbreak. Slowly, we become aware of the world outside Farah’s relatively privileged, sheltered upbringing and her guilelessness begins to affect those around her.
The synopsis of this film makes it sound like a simple coming of age, a teenage girl rebelling against conservative parents, but this is the story of Tunisia and it is through Farah’s mother, Hayet, that we really understand what the situation is.There are some beautiful moments – Hayet walking in to to the ‘men’s bar’, Farah reciting poetry in the dark.
Farah is the bright star in this film – I didn’t always like her, she seemed too naive and lacking in self-awareness sometimes but it is hard to keep your eyes off her, particularly when she sings. She is the last to realise how the words of the songs she sings apply to her. It is Hayet, though, who emerges as the heart of this story.
Bechdel test – pass