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Raja-Movie Review 12/02/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Arabic language film, Drama, Emotional Drama, French language film, Movies.

Raja (French/Arabic/Moroccan) 2003

Among other awards and nominations:
Official Selection, New York Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Seattle International Film Festival
Winner, Marcello Mastroianni Award, Venice Film Festival
Winner (Najat Benssallem), Best Upcoming Actress Award, Venice Film Festival; Best Actress Award, Marrakech International Film Festival; Nominated, Best Upcoming Actress, César Awards (French Academy Awards)

From Film Movement
Directed by Jacques Doillon
Starring Pascal Greggory as Frédéric and Najat Benssallem as Raja

Frédéric, a wealthy middle-aged French man living in Marrakech, becomes obsessed with Raja, one of the poor young women who work in his garden. Raja does want to leave the life she has been living, but she doesn’t necessarily want to be with an older man.

Although they don’t speak the same language, somehow Frédéric and Raja start to understand each other very well. Their relationship can be simply described: he wants sex, she wants money. Both are incredibly manipulative, but Fred (whom Raja disparagingly calls Frenchy) turns into an emotional cripple as the relationship progresses.

The disparity between their lifestyles makes Raja’s motives understandable, but her true emotions are more difficult to fathom. I was left wondering whether she really fell in love with Fred.

Two telling quotes from the story:
From Youssef (also known as Scooter), who is Raja’s boyfriend: “I’m totally confused by all this. I’m going nuts.”
From Fred: “When she needs money, she’ll be back.”

You might recognize Pascal Greggory from other French films (such as La Vie en Rose), but this was Najat Benssallem’s award-winning screen debut. She does herself proud.

112 min. Not rated. Some sexual content.



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