Blu-ray Review: Girls of the Sun (2018)

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Named for the all-female battalion of Yazidi captives turned fighters striving to liberate their Iraqi home from ISIS control at the heart of its fact-based storyline, Eva Husson's Girls of the Sun is a film full of flashbacks.

Relying heavily upon expositional dialogue to bring us up to speed on the background of the French journalist played by Emmanuelle Bercot who arrives on the scene to cover the women with a Marie Colvin inspired eye-patch, Husson opts for a much more cinematic approach when it comes to Bercot's co-star.

Transporting us out of the contemporary battleground to just before ISIS invaded the mountains of Sinjar in Northern Iraq to kidnap 7,000 women and children after killing the men on a mission of genocide, Husson paints a picture of squad leader Bahar (Golshifteh Farahani) back when she was a wife, mother, and lawyer in ways that simple words could not convey.

Following Bahar's harrowing journey first as a captive in an environment of rape and degradation up through her daring escape before she found herself in a position to fight back, it doesn't take long for us to realize that the film's gripping flashbacks are far more compelling than the thinly plotted, disappointingly predictable action of present day.

Giving Farahani ample opportunity to shine, despite a genre required exciting finale, the rest of the film serves as little more than a weak framing device to Bahar's riveting backstory which should've taken center stage.

Not knowing what to do with Bercot's character, while the decision to offer a different perspective on the war by including a European journalist to serve as somewhat of an audience member surrogate was a good one overall, Husson and her co-writer Jacques Akchoti seem unsure of how to adequately insert her into the goings on.

An undeniably muddled yet noble attempt to share these women's experiences with the world, while it's obvious that Bercot's Mathilde has her own tragic story to tell, just like Bahar is shortchanged by hopscotching back and forth in time with varying degrees of success, our journalist is often pushed to the sidelines as she alternates from participant to spectator throughout.

Elevated by Mattias Troelstrup's soul-stirring cinematography that brings unexpected beauty to the gritty world of Sun, although we're unable to feel consistently connected to any particular heroine due to its awkward structure, the film is at its best when Husson brings us back to the past in order to shed new light on these fiery Girls of the Sun.

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