The Silences of the Palace – Movie Review (2018 FIFA World Cup™ Special Series)

Group G

russiawc2018

Info

Country: Tunisia
Original Title: Samt el qusur
Director: Moufida Tlatli
Release: 1994
Genre: Drama
IMDb

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World Cup Historic

The Tunisia National Team began unofficially in 1928, with players from the Tunisian National League, but the official National Association only began after the Independence from France in 1956.

uhlsport 2018-2019 Tunisia Away Football Shirt

The international debut for Tunisia was against Algeria, a 2-1 defeat. At that moment, Algeria was at war with France trying to gain their own independence.

Tunisia played in four World Cups and never passed the group stage. The first apparition was in 1978, then in 1998, 2002 and 2006. After eight years of absence, they will have their fifth participation in 2018.

The goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi is the one with most international experience, with 70 caps for Les Aigles de Carthage. The best player outside the goal is the Rennes midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who scored 12 goals in 35 caps.

The Eagles might get a win against Panama. However is hard to imagine any result against Belgium or England different from defeat.

Prelude

Alia, a singer, returns to the palace where she grew up after a decade, bringing her painful memories.

Directed by Moufida Tlatli, a woman, depicting the lives of the servants in a Palace in Tunis, I believe during the strikes of 1952, preceding the independence in 1956.

As I said in many reviews before, the context regarding women’s rights in some countries, and especially in the past, was precarious. The 50’s Tunisia is one example of those conditions and to be honest, I don’t know how it is today.

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Palace servants singing in their free time

Meanwhile, hell is breaking loose in the streets, causing more pressure and fear in the people living in the Palace.

Around 1950, France accepted to give more powers to Tunisian officials making co-sovereignty between the two, what didn’t please the nationalists. The following year, the new French Prime Minister decided to be harsher in the decisions and things escalated into violence.

Led by Habib Bourguiba, the nationalists started a general strike in 1952 and soon confrontation followed. The confrontations involved Guerrilla resistance from the nationalist and assassination from terrorists backed by France.

Bourguiba_Bizerte
Habib Bourguiba at a demonstration

When a new Prime Minister assumed office, he decided that things should be dealt with smoothly, especially considering that France had many other wars and independence movements in their hands.

Finally, in 1956, Tunisia obtained their independence and Habib Bourguiba became the first Tunisian president.

The film has this fights in the background and it doesn’t play a major role in the story. The movie is more of a coming of age story and of love between mother and daughter.

I really liked it, the best film in the group and one of the best of this special series.

Samt el qusur

After receiving the news that the prince Sid’Ali (Kamel Fazaa) had died, Alia (Ghalia Lacroix) return to the palace where she grew up, bringing up painful memories of her adolescence.

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Alia (Ghalia Lacroix)

Her mother, Khedija (Amel Hedhili) gave birth to Alia in the same night Sid’Ali’s wife gave birth to Sarra (Khedija Ben Othman). The daughter of the servant and the daughter of the prince grew up together and became best friends.

The prince Sid’Ali himself liked the “low-born girl” very much, and sometimes treated her like she was part of the family, taking pictures with the girls, visiting when she got sick, asking for her to sing for his guests.

Told in flashbacks, the story is concentrated in Alia’s adolescence, with a great performance by Hend Sabry in the role. We watch the girl learning to play the lute, enchant people with her singing and more sinister things.

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Alia (Hend Sabry), Sid’Ali (Kamel Fazaa) & Sarra (Khedija Ben Othman)

 

Her mother keeps many secrets from her, the main being who is Alia’s father, but is clear that everything the mother does, is to protect the child from the things she suffered living in the Palace.

We see much of the mother’s suffering and everything she has to endure in the positions she’s in. Khedija feels with no way out of the situation, with nowhere to go, all she can do is endure.

I think Amel Hedhili as Khedija gives the best performance in the whole movie. She’s amazing, conveying all the emotions Khedija is feeling, sometimes making me almost feel with her.

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Khedija (Amel Hedhili) harassed by one of the Princes

Another woman in a great position is Moufida Tlatli. The director does an exceptional job in this movie, making the actors’ interpretation even more effective.

One of my favorite things is how she focuses on the maids’ faces while one of them suffers, like their share and understand the pain of one another. The film has many brutal moments, but in no way, it became a melodramatic cliché or anything of that sort.

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Alia (Hend Sabry) singing and playing the lute

 

Like “Jeanne Dielman”, “The Silences of the Palace” is a feminist movie of enduring the suffering, but the last does not rely on gimmick and pseudo-artsy to accomplish the work.

Of course, I didn’t know the existence of this movie before this special series, and it’s one of the movies that make me glad I had this idea. 9 moons.

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Author: Marlon Santos

Random guy who loves movies and series, among other things.

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