May 29, 2019
Want more Netflix Originals? Good thing you’re here! Keith Lyons, aka Philly Film Fan, is back with a French thriller, despite the Arabian Nights allusion in the title. Be sure to check out Keith’s other reviews, including “Shoplifters” (Episode #394), “The Wife” (Episode #403), “Mirai” (Episode #408), “Capernaum” (Episode #416), “Never Look Away” (Episode #431), “The Photographer of Mauthausen” (Episode #437), “River’s Edge” (Episode #443), “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” (Episode #452), and “The Legend of Cocaine Island” (Episode #486). So incredibly jealous at the films he can access.
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Take it away, Keith!
Hi, Philly Film Fan here with another review for One Movie Punch. You can follow me on Twitter @PhillyFilmFan.
Today’s movie is “Shéhérazade”, the film directed by Jean-Bernard Marlin and co-written by Catherine Paillé and the director. “Shéhérazade” takes us to France, where we see the struggles of juvenile delinquents in love.
I have some issues with “Shéhérazade”, but let's start with the stuff I liked. This is Marlin’s first feature and I think he shows a lot of promise as a director. For starters, despite its gritty setting, this film looks beautiful. And it's not just the two gorgeous leads cast as the young lovers: Zachary (Dylan Robert) and Shéhérazade (Kenza Fortas). Marlin grew up in Marseille and he knows how to find the beauty in its ramshackle neighborhoods. He also knows how to coax authentic performances out of his cast of non-professional actors.
Zachary is ostensibly our hero and it's clear that we're meant to sympathize with his plight. The film begins with a montage of old photographs, showing the history of North Africans in France, leading up to Zachary's release from juvie. We understand that, as a Muslim in a Western country, he has faced discrimination from society. And when we learn that his own mother can’t be bothered to pick him up, we see that he is not only an outcast from society, but he has also been rejected from his own family. All of this builds up a lot of audience sympathy for Zachary, who promptly squanders all of it by his words and actions.
Zachary is a self-centered, violent misogynist, who constantly misgenders a woman, despite repeated corrections. Early in the film he hits the streets looking for a sex worker and finds Shéhérazade. He hires her, and when he gets her alone, he shows a clear contempt for her and her occupation. The hypocrisy of a boy who would disrespect someone for engaging in sex work, that he hired her for, is astounding. Shéhérazade wisely sees this, promptly steals his money, and flees. It’s a great start for her character, but somehow, she winds up falling in love with him, and the movie is all downhill from there.
“Shéhérazade” does a great job of creating a naturalistic urban environment, that feels like an authentic look at people living on the margins of society. The character of Zachary is supposed to be our guide through this world as an audience surrogate. In order to do that, we need to see ourselves in him, but his repugnant behavior makes that impossible.
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (with only 5 reviews)
One Movie Punch: 6.0/10
“Shéhérazade” (2018) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix.
This jawn was brought to you by Philly Film Fan. For more movie reviews, follow me on Twitter at PhillyFilmFan where I’m participating in the #365Movies challenge. That’s P-H-I-L-L-Y-F-I-L-M-F-A-N. Thanks for listening!