Under a starry sky, sitting in the old theatre, the lights went out, and Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” quickly wrapped us with its shivering halo. Followed by the national anthem of Tunisia, the film finally opened its doors, letting us discover the first fiction inspired by the events that occurred between December 2010, and January 14, 2014.
Rabii Tounes, translated as Tunisian Spring, is directed by Raja Amari, a Tunisian filmmaker who received international recognition for her previous work, especially for Satin Rouge (Red Satin) in 2002.
However, it is with a lot of skepticism that I apprehended the movie – being a little tired of the “revolution” thematic. Though, in a blink of an eye, aesthetically, I’m conquered. Some shots are pure beauty, glitters are observable in each character’s eyes, and camera angles revealed a real sensibility and accuracy.
There is bewitching music, there are dazzling performances; the traditional atmosphere of feast is embedded in the beginning, before the decline of president Ben Ali’s ostrich politic. However, aesthetic is not enough; dialogues are poor despite some great humorous lines, and the sloppy introduction of key elements, like the manners, the lack of jobs, and the poor salaries behind the tremor of the Tunisian population, sink it all.
Now, when she didn’t show with finesse the issues causing the burst into flames of the population, she showed cleverly and creatively how the “presidential” police held everything between their hands, and had an overwhelming status. In showing its superiority at that time, its endless power, and abuse of power, Raja Amari has done an interesting job. For example, in a funny and absurd scene where our protagonists, three male musicians; Fathi (Bilel Briki), Walid (Bahram Aloui) and Moha (Hichem Yacoubi), are stopped by policemen for casual paper checks. The boys are forced to perform a song, on the road, until they finally ask what the officers’ aims are – money, but only a cigarette is appropriated.
Shaping her fiction around the revolution with peripherals – or should I say collateral damages, a love story between Fathi and a revolutionary girl Noura (Anissa Daoud), Moha’s alcoholism and Walid’s prostitution, the director couldn’t escape the extremely disappointing end of her movie; quick, brusque and sadly neglected. If one had to draw a curve following the excitement generated by the film, it would have a violent drop in the end, straight to the bottom.
The moment the movie was about to catch me for good, I fell into its steep cliff. Rabii Tounes is the equivalent of being cuddled to sleep, then unexpectedly slapped.
THE REEL SCORE: 5/10