Sunday, May 23, 2004

Notes on Osama 

This movie starts right off, and it's just riveting. The filmmaking is obviously by the seat of the pants (and forgivably so), but the material is so powerful that it doesn't even matter.

The beginning is a highly stressful Battleship Potemkin, Odessa Steps-type sequence where the Taliban show up and open fire on a marching group of burka-wearing women protesting for jobs. From there, it just gets worse. Our main character, who comes to be known as Osama, is a young girl whose only family is her mother and grandmother. Her mother is a doctor, but since the Taliban are in power, she cannot get any work. With no income and new food, they cut off the young girl's hair and pass her off as a boy so she can get work.

Basically, this movie just didn't work for me. The setting is horrible, as are the events depicted. But that doesn't make it a good movie. Some perspective is necessary, since it is obvious that this film was made with limited resources. Still, what's missing here isn't money, but ideas. The film is basically just a string of bad things happening to this poor girl. It's terrible, but that's not good enough. About a Boy makes (comparatively minor) bad things that happen to Marcus heart-breaking, because of who Marcus is and his attitude. Osama is missing this character and perspective, and riding an interesting, terrible setting only gets you so far.
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