The war on terror has never really ended since the touch paper was lit on 9/11. Troops landed, and left, enemies were vanquished, and changed, domestic threats grew, and faded. After all this time, it’s easy in the West to block out any facet of this complicated conflict beyond our back garden. Girls of the Sun, directed by Eva Husson, shines a light on a particularly fascinating story within this global saga.
Her script follows a group of female freedom fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan (an autonomous region in Northern Iraq), as they take on ISIS. They are accompanied by Mathilde (Emmanuelle Bercot), a French war correspondent, who carries her own traumas: an eye lost reporting in Homs, Syria, and a husband in the same field recently deceased.
Husson begins with a clumsy opening narration from Bercot, but soon hits upon a paradoxical problem. Her script is simultaneously heavy-handed with exposition, rattling through events with little subtlety or guile, but also uninformative. She offers very little context for the average viewer who is likely to be unfamiliar with this specific conflict – particularly given its complexity.
The rookie mistake of telling not showing is repeated all through Girls of the Sun, with the cast defined by their traumas, not their personalities. Golshifteh Farahani (you know her from Paterson), is a fantastic lead, but all too often the rest of the cast act up for the cameras rather than acting for each other.
The cycle of violence, flashbacks and more violence prompts the question of why this film exists. If it’s enough to simply serve as a record of a tragic conflict and the lives lost to it, then Girls of the Sun succeeds. But if you hope for film to inform or thrill or move you, it misses the mark.
CAST: Golshifteh Farahani, Emmanuelle Bercot, Erol Afsin, Evin Ahmad
DIRECTOR: Eva Husson
WRITER: Eva Husson
SYNOPSIS: A Kurdish female battalion prepares to take back their town from extremists.