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Hideous Kinky (DVD)

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  • Boring as hell
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    4 Reviews
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      07.03.2010 20:55
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      Visually good, but little story

      In the 60s, Julia, recently separated from her poet husband, travels to Morocco to find the answers to life, taking her two daughters, Lucy and Bea, along with her for the ride. The only problem is that Julia doesn't have much money, and relies on pay-outs from her ex-husband, which unfortunately don't come on a regular basis, and the occasional job. When she meets Bilal, a local man, things seem to look up, but he proves to be as useless as she is at earning money. A trip takes them out of Marrakech, to help Julia with her study of Sufism, but it is soon clear that their lack of money means that they could find themselves in serious danger. Will she find what she is looking for, or will she return home unfulfilled? More importantly, will her children remain safe?

      Kate Winslet plays Julia and is good in the role. Julia is a complicated character. On the one hand, she is very naive, and seems unaware of the problems that face a woman with two children travelling - making her seem very selfish. On the other, she has a real thirst for knowledge and obviously has a deep love for her children, although at times, it seems that her children are the ones who are looking after her - despite their young age. Kate Winslet manages to portray all this without making her character completely dislikeable - although it is touch and go at times. There were times when Julia's treatment of her children is horrendous and it feels that she is just too young to have the responsibility. Nevertheless, I wanted her to do well and find what she needed - perhaps because of my own time living abroad I could see something of myself in her. Bilal is played by Saïd Taghmaoui and is one of the highlights of the film for me. Although he is hopeless at looking after Julia and her daughters, he is very alive, and his presence really stands out in every scene he is in.

      The film is based on the book of the same name, by Esther Freud, which I have read. Although the story is much the same, the book was narrated by the youngest daughter, Lucy, whereas inthe film, Julia is very much the main character. Nevertheless, the two young girls who play Bea and Lucy, Bella Riza and Carrie Mullan, are both very good. I particularly liked Carrie Mullan - Lucy is just five years old and seems exactly that, very playful and happy just to be with her mother. Bea, at seven, is much more sensible - way too sensible (and just a little bit precocious) for such a young child, but it is clear that this is exactly as she has be in order to cope with her mother and their lifestyle. Some of the best scenes show the two girls playing together just as two such little girls should, jumping on the bed and dancing around. Seeing them trying to stop their mother from behaving too badly is rather painful.

      The film is based on a very odd story. It is supposedly based on Esther Freud's own experiences of travelling with her family as a child, and certainly it seems as if it couldn't possibly have been made up. It often seems as though there is no point to it at all - and is often upsetting because of the danger that Julia seems to get herself and her children into. Then there is a real backdrop of hippy love and drugs, with many of the other foreigners that Julia comes across in Marrakech apparently stoned out of their minds much of the time. Julia has a series of dreams in which she is searching for Bea, out of her mind with worry, while Bea seems to be taunting her from afar. It is never clear why these dreams are occurring and it certainly isn't explained - possibly Julia is also on drugs or perhaps the dreams are representing the fact that Julia has lost her way in life and is trying to find out where to turn next.

      The best part of the film for me was the location. Although the places in which Julia and her children are forced to live are not always the most hygienic, they are nevertheless fascinating to see. I loved the Marrakech scenes, particularly the busy market places and restaurants. Director Gillies MacKinnon did a great job of showing how people lived and spent their time - I really enjoyed the way that the camera scanned up from the middle of their courtyard apartment block to show how Julia's neighbours lived. We also occasionally got to see some grander buildings, in the form of mosques that Julia visited and a grand house that they stay in temporarily. The scenes that are filmed outside Marrakech are less attractive - mainly desert, appalling roads and stray camels that wander around at will.

      The ending, when it comes, falls rather flat, because it doesn't really seem to achieve anything, and this is ultimately what most people will find disappointing about the film. Nothing is resolved, ends aren't neatly tied up and the general feeling that I had throughout the film, that there is little point to the story, prevails. On the other hand, it is supposedly based on someone's life and life doesn't have neat and tidy ends, nor does it always seem like it has a point. As a piece of entertainment, it perhaps doesn't work too well, but I did find it thought-provoking. The background music is entertaining too, with hits such as On the Road Again, Here Comes the Sun, Somebody to Love and A Horse With No Name.

      There are no extras with the DVD, so this is a film only review.

      On the whole, I think that the director did a reasonable job of transferring the book onto the screen, but this isn't a film that is going to appeal to everyone. I've seen the film two or three times over the years and still enjoy watching it, largely because of my backpacking experience and the travel bug that I still have. For those who are looking for a story with a proper beginning, middle and end and a point to it, it probably isn't going to hit the mark. This is also not a film to watch because you are a fan of Kate Winslet - her role here is quite unlike anything else she has done. Recommended, but with reservations. Three stars out of five.

      The DVD is available from play.com for 8.98.

      Classification: 15 (for Kate's naked breasts)

      Running time: 98 minutes

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      • More +
        08.02.2010 00:23
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        Not recommended

        I really enjoyed the book by Esther Freud that this film is based upon however like so many film adaptions of books this one failed to live up to my expectations and was a rather disappointing drama.

        The film stars Kate Winslett as Julia who sets out with her two daughters on a voyage of discovery on a trip to Morocco, the lead character is not a very likeable person as she is rather selfish and she is hardly a role model of a mother. She starts an affair with a man called Bilal played by Said Taghmaoui who like Julia is rather self centered and drifting through life. The two daughters are Bea and Lucy played by Bella Riza and Carrie Mullan respectively and for two girls so young I was quite impressed with their performances and they certainly held their own alongside Winslet and Taghmaoui who performed well together.

        There is a disjoined feel to the film and perhaps this is due to the attempt to cover the major events in the book however it fails to deliver, visually it is fine and does a good job of showing the varied nature of Morocco which looks a lovely country.

        The film is rather dull and does not really recreate the tension that ran through the book and this is a shame really as the book deserved better. Not a film I would recommend and certainly not at the £6.99 that Amazon want for it.

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          02.02.2010 22:50
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          Disappointing drama about a single mother and her two girls trying to start a new life in Morocco

          Hideous Kinky is a film about exploration, discovery, and a bit of love thrown in for good measure. Set in the 1970s in Morocco, it follows single mother Julia and her two daughters Bea and Lucy as they seek to discover a new way of life.

          Based on the novel by Esther Freud, written in 1992, this 1998 film showed a bit of promise from reading the brief synopsis and judging by the two leads. Kate Winslet plays Julia, and while she has played some excellent roles in the past, she also manages to play some stinkers, too, and this seemed to me to be one of them. Julia is a very self-centred woman, and some of the acts she does are very unbecoming a mother. She seems away with the fairies one moment, and then having loads of fun with the girls the next. She adopts Islam and this is just one of the major changes in her life. None of it seems to sit very well and the film doesn't flow as a result of her erratic character. You might say this is more the character than Winslet's acting, but even so, I didn't think it was that good in this film.

          Julia starts an affair with an equally down on his luck, directionless man called Bilal. He is played by Said Taghmaoui. He has had a few really good roles over the years, most notably his performance as a Parisian delinquent in La Haine. However, much like Winslet, his role here is just rather confusing and all over the place. Constantly jovial yet with no direction or point to any of his actions, I found his performance was okay, but didn't really impress me in the slightest.

          In fact, the two who show that there is some decent acting to be are Bella Riza and Carrie Mullan, who play Bea and Lucy. The 8 year old girls are very good in their roles, and it must have been hard for them at times, as the film does deal with some tense and harrowing moments.

          There is some tension at times, particularly as we see Julia struggle in a foreign country, trying to make a new start, with two young girls. There is a lack of financial support from the girls' father, and at times we see the award winning Winslet's real ability shine through. However, it's almost as if she is trying too hard to vitalise an otherwise dull plot.

          And this is the main problem. Below par acting can sometimes be supplemented by a decent plot, but in this case, the story is just so dull. There is little to entertain for the majority of the film, and aside from a scene involving one of the girls going missing and the resultant effects on everyone, there is little of any interest. It is almost as if someone has just taken a snippet of someone's life without stopping to wonder whether anyone else would find it interesting.

          The scenery is rather beautiful, offering some landscape views and impressive cinematography, and the film does have effective visuals. It's also very colourful, never dropping into a bland and dull visual, despite this being the case of the actual story the film gives us. I'm not sure whether this is also a fair reflection of the book it is based on. I can't comment as I haven't read it.

          Nor did I understand what the title was on about. Apparently, it is explained in the book as being a game that the girls play, but in the film it's more like something the girls say to each other, without explanation. It's certainly an appealing title, though, to say the least.

          Overall, I found this a disappointing film. The plot was dull, and despite some efforts, the majority of the acting was unimpressive. Hideous Kinky is currently available from amazon.co.uk for £6.99. Not a price I would pay, but then, it's not a film I would recommend even with a lower price.

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          • More +
            28.05.2001 02:40

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            • "Boring as hell"

            A waste of time and money - Advantages: Location - Disadvantages: No plot, Too long, Boring as hell

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        • Product Details

          Hideous Kinky journeys back to the early 1970s to Marrakesh, that hippy mecca for everyone from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix to Gillies MacKinnon, the director of this movie. Here you'll find one nice but confused middle-class young woman escaping the daily grind of a drab London with her two young daughters in tow. Whereas Esther Freud's book was told from the younger girl's perspective, the film-script places Julia centre-stage as she searches for what she describes wistfully as "the annihilation of the ego". Though fresh from her Titanic experience, Kate Winslet is no drippy hippy, bringing a refreshing feistiness to her role and looking fetching swathed in diaphanous layers. As her two daughters, Bella Riza (Bea, the wide-eyed younger one) and Carrie Mullan (Lucy, the sensible one) are brilliant discoveries--unselfconscious, charmingly quirky and enjoying a camaraderie that belies their difference in characters. Completing the family unit is Julia's lover, the endearingly unreliable Bilal (a fiery performance from Saïd Taghmaoui). When the money runs out, their adventures begin and the resilience and practicality of the girls is contrasted throughout with the dreaminess of their mother, her sense of duty vying with her quest for self-discovery. Visually, it's a veritable feast as we're pitched from the colour and cacophony of the market-place to the dusty harshness of the mountains. And that elusive title--which is never explained in the film--is in fact a phrase coined by the girls as a term of approbation. On the DVD: Hideous Kinky is presented in widescreen 16:9 with a Dolby Digital soundtrack. Additional features are disappointing minimal. As well as the usual theatrical trailer, there are brief interviews with the main players (though no marks for imagination as they're all asked the same questions) and approximately eight minutes of behind-the-scenes footage. There are no subtitles. --Harriet Smith