[Screen It]


(1999) (Kate Winslet, Sad Taghmaoui) (R)

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Bad Attitude
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Drama: A mother and her two young daughters try to make ends meet while living in the Moroccan city of Marrakech during the early 1970's.
Julia (KATE WINSLET) is a 25-year-old British expatriate who, accompanied by her young daughters, 8-year-old Bea (BELLA RIZA) and 6-year-old Lucy (CARRIE MULLAN), has left the dreary confines of London and her deadbeat, adulterous husband for the warmer climates of the Moroccan city of Marrakech during the early 1970's.

Hoping to find spiritual and self-enlightenment in this setting, Julia also tries to make ends meet to support her family while waiting for payments from her poet husband that never arrive. As such, she's happy to meet Bilal al Hamal (SAD TAGHMAOUI), a local street performer who soon becomes her lover and surrogate father to her daughters.

As they spend time in Marrakech and then travel to Bilal's hometown village, Julia realizes that she still hasn't found what she's been searching for. With encouragement from her friend, Eva (SIRA STAMPE), Julia sets out on a meandering course hoping to meet a revered Sufi master and adopt Sufism, that not only threatens her relationship with Bilal, but also with her daughters, especially Bea who's grown tired of her mother's errant ways.

Kate Winslet (of "Titanic" fame) may interest some kids, but upon hearing that it's a slow-moving tale set in Morocco during the early '70's, many will probably change their minds.
For some sexuality and language.
  • KATE WINSLET plays a 25-year-old mother who's uprooted her and her daughters from their London home to live something along the lines of hippies in Morocco. While she loves her daughters, she often seems to put her quest for spiritual enlightenment ahead of their well-being.
  • SAD TAGHMAOUI plays a Moroccan street performer who becomes Julia's lover and her daughter's surrogate father. Despite a somewhat nebulous and possible mild criminal nature, he appears to be a good man, especially as related to Julia and her kids.
  • CARRIE MULLAN plays Julia's youngest daughter.
  • BELLA RIZA plays Julia's older daughter who gets somewhat fed up with her mom's hippie lifestyle and wishes to go back to school.


    OUR TAKE: 2.5 out of 10
    Less informative, but about as entertaining and dramatically structured as a tourist-based documentary, the hideously named "Hideous Kinky" is more interested in serving as a promotional stock footage piece for the Moroccan tourist board than as a compelling motion picture. All looks and nearly void of any substance, this film is a testament to the old saying of not judging a book by its cover.

    Of course, beyond the "beauty" of the Moroccan deserts, villages, and street life, the film has another gorgeous asset -- Kate Winslet. Appearing in her first dramatic role since that little movie -- I can't recall its name -- about that boat that sank, Winslet has smartly avoided rushing into another huge, high profile film and subsequently facing burnout or backlash should it have been a bomb. Alas, she chose this film that may just cause her to wish that it, her agent, and her better judgement had gone down with that previous ship.

    Unfortunately named for a word game the two young sisters briefly, but inexplicably play that apparently involves combining disparate adjectives, the film's most interesting aspect is its title. Of course, those expecting something resembling a John "Pink Flamingos" Waters flick will surely be disappointed, as will anyone who favors movies with anything resembling a plot or character development.

    Based on Esther Freud's novel which itself was crafted from the author's recollections of a similar childhood experience to what the two young daughters encounter here, the film meanders about without ever getting anywhere. That's not to say that the characters are "homebodies" -- after all, they do travel quite a bit -- but more pertains to the fact that nothing collectively or cohesively occurs regarding the plot. As such, the film -- like many before it -- simply can't translate what presumably -- and hopefully -- made the source material more intriguing and/or memorable.

    Although Winslet's hippie-like character is obviously the protagonist, it's interesting that the film's strongest characters are those of her daughters and that the film appears to be told somewhat from their perspective. Yet as any parent can tell you, stories told by children -- despite their best intentions -- are often disjointed, boring or often don't make any sense.

    Of course that explanation doesn't make this film's lackluster storytelling approach a pardonable offense. The result -- while possibly palatable to "artsy" types who might try to find some hippie existentialism out of this jumbled mess -- is that the film feels more like a series of episodic moments loosely tied together through its characters than anything resembling a coherent feature.

    Those "episodes" -- involving the likes of our characters interacting with a rich European, a fellow hitchhiker and a stern missionary -- simply stop just as abruptly as they begin. Other moments, including Lucy contracting a deadly disease and a nightmare involving a disembodied but vengeful and solid black hand are never explained or are brushed aside as if they're no big deal.

    Unfortunately, the problems don't stop there. Just when the film should be moving on with any glimmer of some sort of development in either its plot, characters, or both, director Gillies MacKinnon, working from brother Billy's adaption of Freud's novel, resorts to ever more shots of Moroccan street performers, villages, or deserts.

    While such shots are good for establishing a film's locale, period and/or atmosphere, a little of that goes a long way. A good rule of thumb is that unless something substantial is going to come from continued, but essentially pointless images of miscellaneous characters or settings, don't keep showing them or else you'll risk confusing, irritating or boring your audience.

    Fortunately -- and partially serving as the film's redeeming quality -- the performances are rather good. Winslet -- who's twice been nominated for an Oscar -- is simply radiant in her role. Unfortunately, and although she's mostly believable playing a subdued hippie, there's no character development with which she can work.

    Her little supporting performers, Bella Riza and Carrie Mullan, who both make their feature film debut with this picture, are also quite exceptional in their performances, but end up suffering the same fate as Winslet in that they've nowhere to go with their characters. Sad Taghmaoui gets the most interesting role with the greatest potential as the Moroccan street performer/surrogate father, but likewise is left stranded by a stalled plot that leaves him high and dry when not removing him altogether from the proceedings.

    Despite the infusion of some classic 1960's/70's rock songs such as Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit," the film simply lurches about in haphazard circles. Without any plot or character development, the film's few redeeming qualities are that cinematographer John de Borman's camera work is pleasant to watch, that it has good but constrained performances, and should allow the Moroccan tourist board to find plenty of clips for their commercials.

    As such, and despite the star presence of Winslet, this film is doomed to disappear from theaters faster than the real subject of Kate's last film actually did in the North Atlantic. The stuff of which sleeping pill manufacturers wish they could bottle and sell, "Hideous Kinky" clearly doesn't live up to either of its title's adjectives. While the picture and Winslet are gorgeous to behold, it might just be the most boring film you'll see all year and thus we give it just a 2.5 out of 10.

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity is heavy due to the use of at least 2 "f" words, although only a small amount of other words and phrases are present. We briefly see a woman's bare breasts as she playfully fools around with a man who's become her lover. In another scene, the two of them go skinny-dipping and we see parts of his bare butt as well as water-covered glimpses of other nudity.

    Some references to drugs are made, some smoking occurs, and characters drink an unknown liquid that could be alcoholic (but is never determined). Two nightmare sequences might be a little spooky for the easily frightened or the very young, but are brief in nature.

    Beyond that, some tense family moments regarding reaction's to an unseen, but seemingly uncaring father, and some related bad attitudes, the rest of the film's categories are relatively void of major objectionable content. Although it's questionable how many kids will want to see this film, should you still be concerned about its appropriateness for them or anyone else in your home, you may want to take a closer look at the content that's been listed.

  • A man talks about having several hundred "tabs" of pure LSD (we don't see it).
  • Due to the above and the hippie-like setting, some of the cigarettes smoked during the film could possibly be pot, but that's never confirmed.
  • In several scenes people (including Julia and Bilal) drink something that may be alcoholic (it looks like beer), but is never confirmed either way.
  • A man holds a glass of wine.
  • We see what may be a bucket of blood being tossed onto the street (in a nightmare).
  • Bilal has some ugly looking scars on his back.
  • We briefly see Julia's cut hand under water (and blood slightly flowing from it).
  • We see and hear Julia's daughters throwing up.
  • Julia's unseen husband's affairs caused her to take their kids and leave London.
  • Some may see Julia as having both for taking her kids to Morocco and initially not having them in school (although Bea eventually does go).
  • Some local women continually take Julia's clothes and wear them.
  • We learn that Bilal has a wife, but don't know the status of their relationship (although he's now involved with Julia).
  • Bilal sells his employment garb for money (for Julia and her kids).
  • Julia has a nightmare where we see Lucy running through some dark city alleys (that's accompanied by echoing, somewhat suspenseful music).
  • Julia has another nightmare where a disembodied, solid black hand grabs one of her daughters by the throat.
  • Rifles: Fired in unison by several costumed men on horseback during some sort of ceremony/performance.
  • Ceremonial Sword: Worn by Bilal.
  • Phrase: "Sh*thouse," "Bitch," "What the bloody hell?" and "Loser."
  • Julia and Bilal go skinny-dipping in a lake.
  • Bilal throws cans of sardines into a lake (after they've made Julia's daughters sick).
  • None.
  • A tiny bit of suspenseful music occurs in the film.
  • A song from Jefferson Airplane (that's all about drugs) has the lyrics, "One pill makes you nervous. One pill makes you small. And the ones that mother gives you, don't do anything at all..."
  • At least 2 "f" words, 4 "s" words, 3 hells, 1 ass (in subtitles), and 4 uses of "My God," 2 of "Oh my God" and 1 use of "God" as exclamations.
  • We see Bilal sitting atop Julia (and see glimpses of her bare breasts) as they playfully feed each other. He then lies down next to her, but they're interrupted by her daughters before anything else happens (although she doesn't try to hide the fact that they're fooling around from them). It's otherwise implied that they have a live-in sexual relationship.
  • We see Bilal racing toward a lake naked except for a hat covering his private parts (although we see part of his bare butt). We then see him and Julia skinny dipping (and their obscured nudity through the water from a shot above them).
  • Julia and Bilal smoke once, while various miscellaneous or background characters smoke in several scenes.
  • Julia and her daughters have left London for Morocco after her husband/lover (their father) had several affairs. In one scene, we see that all three are upset that he's sent them gifts intended for his "other" family (a lover and her kids). In another, one of the daughters says that an anticipated check from their father won't come "because he's forgotten us."
  • One of the girls asks Bilal if he's her daddy now.
  • We learn that Bilal has a wife, but don't know the status of their relationship (although he's now involved with Julia).
  • Julia briefly mentions that her parents are dead.
  • Julia worries about Bea who's now missing, and later about Lucy who gets deathly ill (but is better rather quickly).
  • Morocco and its people, setting, and customs.
  • The hippie culture of the 1970's.
  • Bea tells Julia that her teacher took a student and beat them with a cane, but then admits that she (Bea) was only joking.
  • Julia throws a tomato that hits a woman in the face (after the latter and others have stolen her clothes). That woman and others then come after Julia who in turn grabs a large vase and threatens to throw it at them (She ends up dropping it to the floor where it shatters and we then see that it cut her hand).
  • We see a person being hit on the streets (but can't tell whether it's a street performance or someone really being beaten, although the latter makes more sense).

  • Reviewed April 8, 1999 / Posted April 16, 1999

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